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Full text of "The history of English poetry, from the close of the eleventh century to the commencement of the eighteenth century. To which are prefixed, three dissertations: 1. Of the origin of romantic fiction in Europe. 2. On the introduction of learning into England. 3. On the Gesta Romanorum"

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TORONTO, 1901. 

/ITM-OMAS, ,. 




















VOL. I. 









THE Edition of 1824, in four volumes octavo, which has for 
some time been out of print, and upon which the present is 
founded, has been generally esteemed for its correctness, and 
for a valuable body of materials for the illustration of the work 
collected by Mr. Park, including numerous manuscript notes 
by Ritson, Ashby, Douce, and other eminent antiquaries*, but 
especially on account of the important corrections and additions 
made by its much-lamented Editor, Mr. Richard Price; for 
whom, though his name did not appear on its publication, it 
deservedly obtained considerable reputation. 

With regard to what he contributed under the head of addi- 
tions, may be mentioned in particular his notes, or rather essays, 
on the Lais of Marie de France, on the Saxon Ode on the Victory 
of Athelstan, on the Romance of Sir Tristram, on the Visions 
of Piers Plouhman, and his learned Preface, in which is con- 
tair?.d a very interesting view of the inquiries that form the 
subjects of Warton's work, the manner in which he has treated 
them, their progress since the publication of his work, and of 
the controversies to which it gave rise. The corrections made by 
Mr. Price must be considered also as having added much to the 
value of the edition ; both those which apply to errors in War- 
ton's glossarial notes, and those which resulted from a collation 
of many of the specimens "with manuscripts in the British 
Museum or editions of acknowledged fidelity." The latter, 
from the great carelessness of Warton as a transcriber, were very 
numerous, and not less important, many passages having been 
rendered quite unintelligible from errors in copying. 

* See Editor's Preface, p. (92). 


The very necessary task of freeing Warton's work from a 
defect which so greatly impaired its value, has however been 
carried out to a much greater extent in the present edition, 
through the zeal and care of Sir Frederic Madden, who, on 
learning that the work had once more been placed in my 
hands by the Publisher, not only most kindly offered to collate 
the text of the specimens in the earlier period by the best manu- 
scripts, but has contributed a considerable number of notes of 
great interest, from the important corrections and additional 
information which they contain. In addition to these, which 
are distinguished by the letter M., the present Edition has 
received an accession of various valuable Notes, which have 
been contributed by Mr. Thorpe and Mr. J. M. Kemble, both 
deeply versed in the earliest form of our national poetry; by 
Mr. Wright, Editor of the Collection of the e Ancient Political 
Songs 5 lately published by the Camden Society ; Mr. W. J. 
Thorns, the Secretary of that Society; the Rev. R. Garnett, of 
the British Museum ; and by my brother, Mr. Edward Taylor, 
Gresham Professor of Music. These are severally distinguished 
by the initials T. or Th., K., W., W. J. T., R. G., and E. T. I 
have, moreover, ventured occasionally to add a few, which bear 
my own initials. 

It remains only to state that those Additional Notes from the 
collections of Dr. Ashby and Mr. Park, which, having come 
into the hands of the Publisher too late to be otherwise inserted 
in the edition of 1824, were printed at the end of the volumes, 
have in the present Edition been annexed to the passages to 
which they relate : and as the present enlarged form of the 
page has occasioned numerous alterations in the references both 
in the Notes and Index, much care has been taken to avoid the 
errors which often result from such a change. 


May 18th, 1840. 


Of my lamented friend Mr. Price, to whom the superintendence of 
the edition of 1824 was, at my suggestion, committed, the following 
Notices may be preserved in this page, as testimonials of the estima- 
tion in which his character and acquirements have been held by men 
of learning. R.T. 

Dr. G. J. THORKELIN, in his work entitled " De Danorum Rebus Gestis, 
fyc." being the first edition of .Beowulf published ; Copenhagen, 1815. 

" Quanta vero apud veteres celebritate et admiratione floruerit Welandus, 
vel inde liquet, quod regum decus jElfretlus Magnus (ut me monuit vir doc- 
tissimus et mini amicissimus RICHARDUS PRICE), in sua versione Consolationis 
Philosophise ab An. M. Sever. Boethio scriptas," &c., p. 266. 

Dr. JAMES GRIMM, in " Hymnorum Veterls Ecclesicp, Interpretatio Theotisca;" 
Gottingen, 1830. 

" Pertzium V. Cl. literarum causa iter Anglicanum ingredientem de his 
Hymnis compellavi. Itaque is PRICIO auctor fuit viro doctissimo et huma- 
nissimo, ut omnes transscribi et ad me mitti curaret, brevique tempore ab illo 
nactus sum quod antea frustra diuque exspectaveram." p. 4. 

The Rev. W. D. CONYBEARE, in the Introduction to the Illustrations of Anglo- 
Saxon Poetry, by the late Rev. J. J. Conybeare. 

" He had not inserted the original Saxon, in the understanding that it is 
the intention of Mr. PRICE to publish it critically in the work on Saxon Poetry 
which he has announced in his very valuable Edition of Warton's History of 
English Poetry. The learning and acuteness of that able philologist and anti- 
quary will doubtless clear away the difficulties which have, in a few instances, 
reduced the present translator to the necessity of circuitous and conjectural 
interpretation." p. Ixxxvii. 

The late Mr. EDGAR TAYLOR, F.S.A., the translator of Wace's Chronicle of 
the Norman Conquests, in his "Lays of the Minnesingers and Troubadours." 

"These sheets were in the printer's hands when the new Edition of Warton's 
History of English Poetry appeared. The reader is referred to it, not only in 
connexion with the observations made above on the romance of Tristan (on 
which subject an excellent note will be found), but in relation to the romances 

of Titurel and Parcival The opportunity must not be omitted of bearing 

testimony to the very great merit of this new edition of a work now rendered 
doubly valuable. The Editor brings to his task that intimate acquaintance 
with ancient Scandinavian and German literature, which is so necessary to a 
full development of the subject, but in which the French and English anti- 
quaries have hitherto been lamentably deficient." p. 109. 

" For a great deal of valuable information on these points, I must again 
refer to the excellent Preface of the Editor of Warton. The little collection of 
' German Popular Stories,' which he has thought worthy of his notice, only 
touched on a subject highly interesting, no doubt, but requiring for its full de- 


velopment a depth of research far heyond my means : I would gladly leave it 
in the able hands into which the Editor's Preface shows that it has fallen." 
Ib. p. 116. 

To these maybe added the passage from Mr. Thorpe's translation of the Saxon 
Grammar of the late Professor Rask of Copenhagen, quoted below at p. Ixxxi : 
also the following from Mr. THORPE'S Preface to his Collection of the "Ancient 
Laws and Institutes of England, published under the authority of the Record 
Commission :" 

" A short space must now be devoted to the memory of a good man and 
highly accomplished scholar, my lamented predecessor in this work, the late 
RICHARD PRICE, Esq., by whose labours my own have been considerably light- 
ened, and who, had he been longer spared to his friends and country, would, 
no doubt, have raised another monument of his industry and learning in the 
work subsequently committed to the care of a less experienced successor." 

" Mr. PRICE was the editor of an improved edition of Warton's History of 
English Poetry, in four volumes, 8vo ; also of a valuable edition of Blackstone's 
Commentaries in four volumes, London, 1830; and of the Saxon Chronicle 
to the year 1066, contained in the first volume of the ' Materials for the History 
of Great Britain,' not yet completed." Preface, p. xvii. 


VOL. I. 


Author's Preface (3) 

Mr. Price's Preface to the Edition of 1824 (9) 

Note by R. T. on the Genealogies of the Northern Epic Heroes ... (95) 


Of the Origin of Romantic Fiction in Europe i 

Note B. by Mr. Price on the Lais of Marie de France Ivii 

Note C. by Mr. Price on the Saxon Ode on the Victory of Athelstan Ixvi 

On the Introduction of Learning into England Ixxxii 

On the Gesta Romanorum .. .. cxxxix 



State of Language. Prevalence of the French Language before and after 
the Norman Conquest. Specimens of Norman-Saxon poems. Legends 
in verse. Earliest Love-songs. Alexandrine Vei'ses. Satirical Pieces. 
First English Metrical Romance 1 


Satirical Ballad in the Thirteenth Century. The King's Poet. Robert 
of Gloucester. Antient Political Ballads. Robert of Brunne. The 
Brut of England. Le Roman de Rou. Gests and Jestours. Ercel- 
doune and Kendale. Bishop Grosthead. Monks write for the Min- 
strels. Monastic Libraries full of Romances. Minstrels admitted into 
the Monasteries. Regnorum Chronica and Mirabilia Mundi. Early 

European Travellers into the East. Elegy on Edward the First 42 

Note by Mr. Price on the Romance of Sir Tristrem 95 

Additional Note on Sir Tristrem .. .109 



Effects of the Increase of Tales of Chivalry. Rise of Chivalry. Crusades. 
Rise and Improvements of Romance. View of the Rise of Metrical 
Romances. Their Currency about the End of the Thirteenth Century. 
French Minstrels in England. Provencial Poets. Popular Romances. 
Dares Phrygius. Guido de Colonna. Fabulous Histories of Alex- 
ander. Pilpay's Fables. Roman d'Alexandre. Alexandrines. Com- 
munications between the French and English Minstrels. Use of the 

Provencial Writers. Two sorts of Troubadours 112 

Note A. by Mr. Price on the Sangreal 149 


Examination and Specimens of the Metrical Romance of Richard the 
First. Greek Fire. Military Machines used in the Crusades. Mu- 
sical Instruments of the Saracen Armies. Ignorance of Geography in 
the dark ages 155 


Specimens of other Popular Metrical Romances which appeared about the 
end of the thirteenth century. Sir Guy. The Squier of Low Degree. 
Sir Degore. King Robert of Sicily. The King of Tars. Ippomedon. 

La Mort Arthur e. Subjects of antient tapestry 170 

Note by R. T. on Robert the Devil 207 











VOL. I. 


IN an age advanced to the highest degree of refinement, that 
species of curiosity commences, which is busied in contemplating 
the progress of social life, in displaying the gradations of science, 
and in tracing the transitions from barbarism to civility. 

That these speculations should become the favourite pursuits, 
and the fashionable topics, of such a period, is extremely natu- 
ral. We look back on the savage condition of our ancestors 
with the triumph of superiority ; we are pleased to mark the 
steps by which we have been raised from rudeness to elegance ; 
and our reflections on this subject are accompanied with a con- 
scious pride, arising in great measure from a tacit comparison of 
the infinite disproportion between the feeble efforts of remote 
ages, and our present improvements in knowledge. 

In the mean time, the manners, monuments, customs, prac- 
tices, and opinions of antiquity, by forming so strong a contrast 
with those of our own times, and by exhibiting human nature 
and human inventions in new lights, in unexpected appearances, 
and in various forms, are objects which forcibly strike a feeling 

Nor does this spectacle afford nothing more than a fruitless 
gratification to the fancy. It teaches us to set a just estimation 
on our own acquisitions ; and encourages us to cherish that cul- 

a 2 


tivation, which is so closely connected with the existence and 
the exercise of every social virtue. 

On these principles, to develope the dawnings of genius,, and 
to pursue the progress of our national poetry, from a rude origin 
and obscure beginnings, to its perfection in a polished age, must 
prove an interesting and instructive investigation. But a 
history of poetry, for another reason, yet on the same principles, 
must be more especially productive of entertainment and utility: 
I mean, as it is an art, whose object is human society ; as it has 
the peculiar merit, in its operations on that object, of faithfully 
recording the features of the times, and of preserving the most 
picturesque and expressive representations of manners ; and, be- 
cause the first monuments of composition in every nation are 
those of the poet, as it possesses the additional advantage of 
transmitting to posterity genuine delineations of life in its sim- 
plest stages. Let me add, that anecdotes of the rudiments of a 
favourite art will always be particularly pleasing. The more 
early specimens of poetry must ever amuse, in proportion to the 
pleasure which we receive from its finished productions. 

Much however depends on the execution of such a design a , 
and my readers are to decide in what degree I have done justice 
to so specious and promising a disquisition. Yet a few more 
words will not be perhaps improper, in vindication, or rather in 
explanation, of the manner in which my work has been con- 
ducted. I am sure I do not mean, nor can I pretend, to apo- 
logise for its defects. 

I have chose to exhibit the history of our poetry in a chrono- 
logical series ; not distributing my matter into detached articles, 

a [Ritson has observed that " The Hi- since it may be considered as one of the 

story of English Poetry stands high in highest testimonies to the merits of Mr. 

public estimation ; that the subject is Warton's elaborate and multifarious pub- 

equally curious, interesting and abstruse ; lication, that Ritson himself, in his lynx- 

and that he should have experienced sa- eyed scrutiny, has detected little more 

tisfaction in finding the work entirely free than what a liberal and candid mind 

from error." Obs. p. 2. This was penned, would have communicated to the historian 

alas! with a selfish disregard to that ur- as a mere table of errata. PARK.] 
bane moral maxim, humanum est errare ; 


of periodical divisions, or of general heads. Yet I have not al- 
ways adhered so scrupulously to the regularity of annals, but 
that I have often deviated into incidental digressions ; and have 
sometimes stopped in the course of my career, for the sake of 
recapitulation, for the purpose of collecting scattered notices 
into a single and uniform point of view, for the more exact in- 
spection of a topic which required a separate consideration, or 
for a comparative survey of the poetry of other nations. 

A few years ago, Mr. MASON, with that liberality which ever 
accompanies true genius, gave me an authentic copy of Mr. 
POPE'S scheme of a History of English Poetry, in which our 
poets were classed under their supposed respective schools. 
The late lamented Mr. GRAY had also projected a work of this 
kind, and translated some Runic odes for its illustration, now 
published ; but soon relinquishing the prosecution of a design, 
which would have detained him from his own noble inventions, 
he most obligingly condescended to favour me with the sub- 
stance of his plan, which I found to be that of Mr. PoPE b , con- 
siderably enlarged, extended, and improved. 

It is vanity in me to have mentioned these communications. 
But I am apprehensive my vanity will justly be thought much 
greater, when it shall appear, that in giving the history of En- 
glish poetry, I have rejected the ideas of men who are its most 
distinguished ornaments. To confess the real truth, upon ex- 
amination and experiment, I soon discovered their mode of treat- 
ing my subject, plausible as it is, and brilliant in theory, to be 
attended with difficulties and inconveniences, and productive of 
embarrassment both to the reader and the writer. Like other 

b [See Pope's plan for a History of En- the classification of our English poets by 

glish Poetry, with another formed upon Pope ; and Dr. Warton made a new ar- 

it by Gray, together with a letter to War- rangement of them into four different 

ton, in the Gent. Mag. for 1783. It has classes and degrees, because he thought 

also been inserted by Mr. Mant and Mr. A. we do not sufficiently attend to the differ- 

Chalmers in their Lives of Warton. Mr. ence between a man of wit, a man of sense, 

Malone, in vol. 3. of Dryden's Prose and a true poet. Ded. to Essay on Pope. 

Works, pointed out several mistakes in PA UK.] 


ingenious systems, it sacrificed much useful intelligence to the 
observance of arrangement ; and in the place of that satisfaction 
which results from a clearness and a fulness of information., 
seemed only to substitute the merit of disposition, and the praise 
of contrivance. The constraint imposed by a mechanical atten- 
tion to this distribution, appeared to me to destroy that free ex- 
ertion of research with which such a history ought to be executed, 
and not easily reconcileable with that complication, variety, and 
extent of materials, which it ought to comprehend. 

The method I have pursued, on one account at least, seems 
preferable to all others. My performance, in its present form, 
exhibits without transposition the gradual improvements of our 
poetry, at the same time that it uniformly represents the pro- 
gression of our language. 

Some perhaps will be of opinion, that these annals ought to 
have commenced with a view of the Saxon poetry. But besides 
that a legitimate illustration of that jejune and intricate subject 
would have almost doubled my labour, that the Saxon language 
is familiar only to a few learned antiquaries, that our Saxon 
poems are for the most part little more than religious rhapsodies, 
and that scarce any compositions remain marked with the native 
images of that people in their pagan state d , every reader that re- 
flects but for a moment on our political establishment must per- 
ceive, that the Saxon poetry has no connection with the nature 

* [This subject has since been very was the temper which dictated this forced 

ably and learnedly illustrated by the pen inference ; and what a "picture in little " 

of Mr. Sharon Turner, in his History of does it exhibit of morbid spleen!! In- 

the Anglo-Saxons, to which the antiqua- deed, the critic seems totally to misap- 

rian reader is referred. PARK.] prehend the drift of Mr. Warton's reason- 

d [To evince the unhappy tendency of ing; who only infers that when the Saxons 
Ritson's criticisms on Mr. Warton's Hi- were converted to Christianity, they lost 
story, the following comment upon this all the wild imagery of their old super- 
passage may serve as a sufficient sample. stitions ; and composed religious rhap- 
" It may seem (says the critic) a very ex- sodies in lieu of their native barbaric 
traordinary idea in a Christian minister songs. See Gent. Mag. Nov. 1782, p. 
(and who is not only the historian of poets 528. PARK.] [The reasoning upon 
but a poet himself) that these people could which the author endeavours to justify 
not have a poetical genius, because they his neglect of the Saxon period, in a Hi- 
were not pagans ; and that religion and story of English Poetry, is, however, by 
poetry are incompatible." How pitiable no means satisfactory. R. T.] 


and purpose of my present undertaking. Before the Norman 
accession, which succeeded to the Saxon government, we were 
an unformed and an unsettled race. That mighty revolution 
obliterated almost all relation to the former inhabitants of this 
island ; and produced that signal change in our policy, consti- 
tution and public manners, the effects of which have reached 
modern times. The beginning of these annals seems therefore 
to be most properly dated from that era, when our national cha- 
racter began to dawn. 

It was recommended to me, by a person eminent in the re- 
public of letters, totally to exclude from these volumes any men- 
tion of the English drama. I am very sensible that a just history 
of our Stage is alone sufficient to form an entire and extensive 
work ; and this argument, which is by no means precluded by 
the attempt here offered to the public, still remains separately to 
be discussed, at large, and in form. But as it was professedly 
my intention to comprise every species of English Poetry, this, 
among the rest, of course claimed a place in these annals, and 
necessarily fell into my general design. At the same time, as in 
this situation it could only become a subordinate object, it was 
impossible I should examine it with that critical precision and 
particularity, which so large, so curious, and so important an 
article of our poetical literature demands and deserves. To have 
considered it in its full extent, would have produced the unwieldy 
excrescence of a disproportionate episode ; not to have consider- 
ed it at all, had been an omission, which must detract from the 
integrity of my intended plan. I flatter myself, however, that 
from evidences hitherto unexplored, I have recovered hints which 
may facilitate the labours of those, who shall hereafter be inclined 
to investigate the ancient state of dramatic exhibition in this 
country, with due comprehension and accuracy. 

It will probably be remarked, that the citations in the first 
volume are numerous, and sometimes very prolix. But it should 


be remembered^ that most of these are extracted from ancient 
manuscript poems never before printed, and hitherto but little 
known. Nor was it easy to illustrate the darker and more distant 
periods of our poetry, without producing ample specimens. In 
the mean time, I hope to merit the thanks of the antiquarian, 
for enriching the stock of our early literature by these new ac- 
cessions ; and I trust I shall gratify the reader of taste, in having 
so frequently rescued from oblivion the rude inventions and 
irregular beauties of the heroic tale, or the romantic legend. 

The design of the DISSERTATIONS is to prepare the reader, 
by considering apart, in a connected and comprehensive detail, 
some material points of a general and preliminary nature, and 
which could not either with equal propriety or convenience be 
introduced, at least not so formally discussed, in the body of the 
book ; to establish certain fundamental principles to which fre- 
quent appeals might occasionally be made, and to clear the way 
for various observations arising in the course of my future in- 



1 HE " History of English Poetry" assumes the first place in the cata- 
logue of Warton's prose writings, and, to use the language of his bio- 
grapher, " forms the most solid basis of his reputation." Though not 
the only labour of his life, which embraces the study of early English 
poetry and antiquities, it is still the only one to which he devoted him- 
self with the ardour inspired by a favourite occupation, or in which the 
nature of his subject allowed him a fair and appropriate field for the 
display of his genius, his erudition, and his taste. His other produc- 
tions are either testimonials of what he felt due to his rank in his col- 
lege, or the amusements in which an active mind indulges when relaxing 
from severer pursuits ; and even much of his poetry contains but a va- 
ried disposition of the same imagery which enlivens the pages of his 
history. In this his most voluminous and most important work, he 
found a subject commanding all the resources of his richly stored and 
fertile mind ; a task which had excited the attention of two distinguished 
poets 1 , as an undertaking not unworthy of their talents; where the du- 
ties were arduous, the path untrodden, and not a little of public pre- 
judice to subdue against the worth and utility of his object 2 . But 
Warton was too much in love with his theme, and too confident in his 
own ability, to be dismayed by difficulties which industry might over- 
come, or opinions having no better foundation than vulgar belief un- 
supported by knowledge ; and the success attendant upon the publica- 
tion of his first volume, which speedily reached a second edition 3 , en- 

1 The reader will find Pope's plan of ing as was never read," and " the classics 
his projected history, enlarged by Gray, of an age that heard of none," were still 
in Dr. Mant's Life of Warton. The rea- fresh in public recollection. 

sons for differing from his predecessors 3 This second edition is not a mere re- 
are given by Warton in the prtiUce to his print of the title-page ; it is marked by 
first volume. several typographical errors which do not 

2 Pope's sneers against " all such read- occur in the first. 


couraged him to persevere in his course. A second and a third volume 
appeared in due succession; a small portion of the fourth had been 
committed to the press, when death arrested his hand, just as he was 
entering on the most interesting and brilliant period of our poetic an- 
nals the reign of Queen Elizabeth. 

The comprehensive plan upon which Warton had commenced this 
work, so far exceeded his expectations of its possible extent, that 
though the original design was to have been completed in two volumes, 
there was still as much to do as had been accomplished, when his la- 
bours were thus abruptly terminated. Of this plan it had been a lead- 
ing principle, that the historian was not to confine himself to the strict 
letter of his subject, a chronological account of poets and their writings, 
with an estimate of their merits or defects. The range of inquiry was 
to be extended further, beyond its obvious or perhaps its lawful limits ; 
and the History of English Poetry to be made a channel for conveying 
information on the state of manners and customs among our feudal 
ancestry, the literature and arts of England and occasionally of Europe 
at large. A life longer than Warton's might have been unequal to the 
execution of such an extensive project ; and there will be as many 
opinions upon the necessity of thus enlarging the boundaries of his 
theme, as of the manner in which he has acquitted himself in the under- 
taking. For while the general reader will complain of the frequent 
calls upon his patience for these repeated digressions, the scholar will 
regret, that subjects so attractive and copious in themselves are only 
passingly or superficially treated of. Without attempting to justify or 
deny the force of these objections, it may be more to our present pur- 
pose to inquire, what may have been the author's views of his duty, and 
the manner in which this was to be accomplished. In common with 
every one else who has duly canvassed the subject, Warton indisputably 
felt that the poetry of a rude and earlier age, with very few exceptions, 
can only command a share of later attention in proportion as it has ex- 
ercised an influence over the times producing it, or conveys a picture 
of the institutions, modes of thinking or general habits of the society 
for which it was written. To have given specimens of these produc- 
tions in all their native nakedness, would have been to ensure for them 
neglect from the listless student, and misapprehension from the more 
zealous but uninformed inquirer. A commentary was indispensably 
necessary, not a mere gloss upon words, but things, a luminous expo- 
sition of whatever had changed its character, or grown obsolete in the 
lapse of time, and which, as it unfolded to the reader's view the for- 


gotten customs of the day, assisted him to live and feel in the spirit of 
the poet's age. For such a purpose it was requisite to enter largely 
into the domestic and civil economy of our ancestors, their public and 
private sports, the entertainments of the baronial hall, the martial ex- 
ercises of the tournament, the alternate solemnities and buffooneries 
of misdirected devotion, and those coarser pastimes and amusements, 
which relieve the toil of industry, and give a zest to the labours of the 
humbler classes. The spirit and gallant enterprize of chivalry was to be 
recorded in conjunction with the juggler's dexterity arid the necro- 
mancer's art ; the avocations of the cloister, the wode-craft of the feudal 
lord, and the services of his retainer, were each to receive a share of 
the general notice ; and though romance and minstrelsy might be the 
prominent characteristics of the age, the occult mysteries of alchemy 
were not to be overlooked. With these were to be ranged, the popular 
superstitions of a departed pagan faith, and the legendary marvels of a 
new religion ; the relations of the citizen to the state, and of the eccle- 
siastic to the community ; the effects produced by the important political 
events of five centuries, and their consequences on the progress of civi- 
lization and national literature. In addition to these varied topics, 
Warton considered it equally imperative upon him to account for the 
striking contrast existing between the poetry of the ancient and modern 
world ; and, in developing what he has termed the origin of romantic 
fiction, to discuss the causes which embellished or corrupted it, and to 
explain those anomalies which appear to separate it both from more re- 
cent compositions and the classic remains of antiquity. He also knew, 
that though poetry be not the child of learning, it is modified in every 
age by the current knowledge of the country, and that as an imita- 
tive art, it is always either borrowing from the imagery of existing 
models, or wrestling with the excellences which distinguish them. It 
was therefore not only necessary to investigate the degree of classic 
lore which still diffused its light amid the gloom of the earlier ages of 
barbarism, but to show the disguises and corruptions under which a still 
greater portion had recommended itself to popular notice, and courted 
attention as the memorials of ancient and occasionally of national enter- 
prize. But the middle age had also produced a learning of its own, and 
the scholar and the poet were so frequently united in the same person- 
age, that in this ill-assorted match of science " wedded to immortal 
verse," the muse was often made the mere domestic drudge of her abs- 
truse and erudite consort. Of this once highly- valued knowledge, so 
little has descended to our own times, that the modern reader, without 


a guide to instruct him in his progress, feels like the traveller before the 
walls of Persepolis, who gazes on the inscriptions of a powerful but ex- 
tinguished race, without a key to the character recording their deeds. 
Above all, it was of importance to notice the successive acquisitions, 
in the shape of translation or imitation, from the more polished produc- 
tions of Greece and Rome ; and to mark the dawn of that ssra, which, 
by directing the human mind to the study of classical antiquity, was to 
give a new impetus to science and literature, and by the changes it in- 
troduced to effect a total revolution in the laws which had previously 
governed them. This is clearly the outline of what Warton proposed 
to himself as his duty : of the mode in which this design has been ful- 
filled it must be left to others to determine. But let it not be hastily 
inferred, that when he has been excursive upon some collateral topic, 
lie has consequently given it an importance disproportionate to its real 
bearing on his subject ; or that the languor produced upon the reader's 
mind in certain periods of these annals, is exclusively the author's 
fault. The results attendant upon literary, as well as moral or political 
changes, are not always distinguished by that manifest equality to their 
exciting cause, which strikes the sense on a first recital ; and the poetry 
of so many centuries, like the temper of the times, or the constitution 
of the seasons, must necessarily exhibit the same fitful vicissitudes of 
character, the same alternations of fertility and unproductiveness. Of 
the materials transmitted to his hands, whether marked by excellence, 
or proverbial for insipidity, it is still the historian's duty to record their 
existence ; and though many of these may contain no single ray of genius 
to redeem their numerous absurdities, they yet may throw considerable 
lighten the state of public opinion, and the ruling tastes or customs of 
their age. The most popular poetry of its day is well known not always 
to be the most meritorious, however safely we may trust to the equity 
of time for repairing this injustice. The only question therefore will 
be, as to the degree in which such compositions ought to be commu- 
nicated. In the earlier periods, where any memorials are exceedingly 
scanty, and those generally varying in their prevailing character, a 
greater latitude will be granted than in those where the invention of 
printing equally contributed to multiply the materials, and render the 
documents more generally accessible. Of Warton's consideration in 
this respect, it will be sufficient to remark, that in the sixteenth cen- 
tury (when every man seems to have been visited with a call to court 
the muse, and had an opportunity of giving publicity to his concep- 
tions,) he has frequently consigned a herd of spiritless versifiers to the 


"narrow durance" of a note. There is another point upon which it 
may be more difficult to rescue his fame at the bar of outraged cri- 
ticism : but as this seems to have been a crime of malice prepense, 
rather than inadvertency, his name must be left to sanctify the deed. 
The want of order in the arrangement of his subject is a charge 
which has been repeated both by friends and foes. A part of this 
Warton seems to have intentionally adopted. In a letter to Gray, 
tracing the outline of his forthcoming history, he specifically states, " I 
should have said before, that although I proceed chronologically, yet I 
often stand still to give some general view, as perhaps of a particular 
species of poetry , &c., and even to anticipate sometimes for this purpose. 
These views often form one section ; yet are interwoven into the tenor 
of the work without interrupting my historical series 4 ." He possibly 
thought, that as it is of the essence of romantic poetry " to delight in 
an intimate commingling of extremes, in the blending and contrasting 
of the most opposing elements 5 ," it was equally so of its historian to 
deviate from established rules; and may have been so smitten with his 
ancient masters as to conceive some of their distinguishing character- 
istics not unworthy of occasional imitation. But when it is said that 
his materials are ill digested, that we are frequently called upon in a 
later century to travel back to one preceding, that we are then treated 
. with specimens which ought to have found a place in an earlier chap- 
ter 6 , the zeal of criticism is made to exceed the limits either of justice 
or candour. It is wholly overlooked, that Warton was the first adven- 
turer in the extensive region through which he journeyed, and into 
which the usual pioneers of literature had scarcely penetrated. Beyond 
his own persevering industry, he had little to assist his researches ; his 
materials lay widely scattered, and not always very accessible; new 
matter was constantly arising, as chance or the spirit of inquiry evolved 
the contents of our public libraries 7 , and he had the double duty to 
perform of discovering his subject, and writing its history. 

But these objections, whether founded in error, or justified by facts, 

4 Chalmers's Biog. Diet. art. Warton. he published his first volume. It is well 

5 Schlegel on Dramatic Literature, vol. known, that they were accidentally dis- 
iii. p. 14. covered by Mr. Tyrwhitt, while engaged 

See Monthly Review for 1793. Dr. in searching for MSS. of Chaucer. A 

Mant, who has refuted some of these similar accident led to the discovery of 

charges, states them to have been copied the alliterative romance on the adventures 

(without acknowledgement) by Dr. An- of Sir Gawain, quoted vol. i. p. 100, by 

derson, in his Life of Warton. May we the writer of this note ; and which there is 

not rather infer, that Dr. Anderson felt every reason to believe must have passed 

no obligation to acknowledge a quotation through the hands of Mr. Ritson. [Lately 

from himself? edited by Sir F. Madden for the Banna- 

1 The poems of Minot could only have tyne Club. R.T.] 
been known to Warton by report, when 


have all been urged with temper, and are distinguished by that con- 
sideration for Warton's personal character, which every gentleman is 
entitled to, and every liberal scholar prides himself upon observing. 
In those now to be noticed, a widely different spirit was manifested ; 
and one so opposite to every principle of decent or manly feeling, that 
it might be safely left to the contempt which Warton in the proud 
conviction of his own honour and integrity bestowed upon it, were it 
not interwoven with matter requiring attention on other accounts, of 
which occasional notice has been taken in the body of the work, and 
which must again be the subject of discussion. The reader of early 
English poetry will be at no loss to perceive, that the objections and 
conduct here spoken of, are those of the late Mr. Ritson. To be 
zealous in detecting error, exposing folly, or checking the presump- 
tuous arrogance of any literary despot, is an obligation which the 
commonwealth of learning imposes upon all her sons. The tone of 
the reproof, and the character of the offence, are all that will be de- 
manded of the ministrant in his office; and so great is the latitude 
allowed, that he who will condescend " to break a butterfly upon a 
wheel," secundum artem, runs no greater risk, than a gentle censure 
for the eccentricity of his taste ; and even acrimony, where great pro- 
vocation has been given, may pass for just and honest indignation. 
But Mr. Ritson, in the execution of his censorial duty, indulged in a 
vein of low scurrility and gross personalities, wholly without example 
since the days of Curll. He not only combated Warton's opinions, 
and corrected his errors, questioned his scholarship, and denied his 
ability ; but impugned his veracity, attacked his morality, and openly 
accused him of all those mean and despicable arts, by which a needy 
scribbler attempts to rifle the public purse. There would have been 
little in this beyond the common operation of a nine days' wonder, and 
the ferment of the hour which every deviation from established prac- 
tice is sure to excite, had the charges been limited to a single publi- 
cation. But for a period of twenty years, both while the object of 
them was living, and after his decease, they were repeated in every 
variety of form, always from the same amiable motives, though occa- 
sionally in a subdued style of animosity. The result of this extraor- 
dinary course was the establishment of Mr. Ritson as the critical lord 
paramount in the realms of romance and minstrelsy ; his fiat became 
the ruling law, and no audacious hand was to raise the veil which 
covered the infirmities of the suzerain. For though he has magnified 
those venial errors, which, as the human mind is constituted, are almost 


inseparable from such an undertaking as Warton's, into offences which 
only meet their parallel in the criminal nomenclature of the country 
into fraud, imposture and forgery yet his own labours in the same 
department of literature, his " Ancient Songs," and " Metrical Ro- 
mances," though scarcely equalling a tithe of the " History of English 
Poetry," are marked by the same kinds of inaccuracy as those he has 
so coarsely branded. Indeed on such a subject it would have been as 
marvellous as unaccountable, if they had not : but this is foreign to 
our purpose. It will rather be asked, whether the historian of English 
poetry may not have provoked this treatment by his own intemperance 
of rebuke, or want of charity towards others ; and whether the vehe- 
mence of Mr. Ritson's indignation, and the virulence of his invective, 
may not have had a more commensurate motive, than the misquotation 
of a date, a name or a text, or the fallacy of a mere speculative opinion. 
With the exception of one misdemeanor hereafter to be mentioned, 
a sin in itself of pardonable levity, if it must be so stigmatized, War- 
ton's conduct towards his fellow-labourers in the mine of antiquarian 
research, was distinguished by a tone of courtesy and complimentary 
address, which the sterner principles of the present day have rejected 
as bordering too closely upon adulation. Of this therefore as a gene- 
ral charge he must be acquitted, and equally so of any intention to 
wound the feelings or undermine the reputation of Mr. Ritson, as that 
gentleman's first publication connected with early English literature 8 , 
was his " Observations" on Warton's history 9 . The causes of this ex- 

8 A Collection of Garlands (which can- the vulgar ballad of Old Simon the King, 
not now be referred to) may bear an earlier with a strict injunction not to show it to 
date. But this was a local publication, this editour [Mr. Ritson], which however 
not likely to extend beyond the limits of he immediately brought him !" Yet these 
a country town. The " Observations " were honourable men ! 
produced a controversy in the Gentleman's 9 In this extraordinary pamphlet, Mr. 
Magazine for 1782-83. The first letter Ritson made thirty-eight remarks upon 
on the subject, signed Verax, was in all the multifarious matter contained in War- 
probability written by Warton. (See his ton's first volume (extending to p. 224, 
letter to Mr. Nichols of the same date, in- vol. ii. of the present edition). Nine of 
closing a communication to that Miscel- these consist of those personalities already 
lany, and requesting a concealment of the spoken of, or are mere objections to the 
writer's name.) Those signed A. S. were conduct and order of the work. Thirteen 
by the late Mr. Russell of Sydney College. are devoted to glossarial corrections, among 
The letter signed Vindex contains inter- which are the candid specimen recorded 
nal evidence of Mr. Ritson's hand, who vol. ii. p. 5, note , and two literal inter- 
may also have drawn up the epitome of pretations, instead of two very appropriate 
his pamphlet (1783, p. 281). But who paraphrases. The remaining fifteen, or 
was Castigator ? (1782, p. 571). Was it rather the subjects they refer to, it may be 
the same worthy personage of whom his worth while to analyse. One of these had 
friend records the following creditable been already corrected by Warton in the 
transaction ? " This venerabilissimus epi- Emendations appended to the second vo- 
scopus [the bishop of Dromore], upon a lume, a circumstance which Mr. Ritson 
different occasion, gave Mister Steevens a either knew, or ought to have known, as 
:r;inscM-ipt from the above [folio] MS., of he carefully picked his way through this 


traordinary persecution must hence be sought for in other directions. 
Among these it is not difficult to detect the sullen rancour of a jealous 
and self-appointed rival, the workings of an inferior mind, aiming at 
notoriety by an insolent triumph over talents, which it at once envies 
and despairs of equalling. The " taste and elegance " with which 
Warton had embellished his narrative, became a source of chagrin to a 
man who sought distinction by a style of orthography, resembling any 
thing but the language of his native country ; and hence the sarcastic 
tone in which these graceful advantages are complimented, while they 
are carefully contrasted with the historian's " habitual blunders." War- 
ton's learning was also of no common order ; and his reading of that 
extensive kind which enabled him to illustrate his theme from the 
varied circle of ancient and modern literature ; and here again it be- 
came matter of exultation to discover, that his knowledge of Italian 
had once been but limited, or to hint that his acquaintance with Hickes's 
Thesaurus had been assisted by a translation of " Wotton's Conspec- 
tus." But in the gaiety of his heart, Warton had smiled at the solemn 
dullness of Hearne, the idol of Mr.Ritson's affections; he had descanted 
on the laboured triflings of this diligent antiquary in a style of success- 
ful yet playful irony, and chose to entertain no very exalted opinion of 
the patient drudgery by which " Thomas" was to recommend himself 
to posterity. This was an unpardonable offence, and little short of a 
declaration of hostilities by anticipation : for though genius will ap- 
prove the well-directed satire which exposes its own peculiar foibles, 
while portraying the follies of a contemporary, yet moody mediocrity 
never forgives the bolt which, aimed at another's eccentricities, inad- 
vertently grazes its own inviolable person. In addition, the historian 
of English poetry was a Christian, a churchman, and a distinguished 
member of his college ; all and either of them sufficient to condemn 

additional matter, for the purpose of sup- Mr. Ritson has convicted the historian of 
plying two corrections, one of which he "ignorance;" though two of these refer 
afterwards recalled, and in furnishing the to matters that are rather probable than 
other committed an error equally great certain: but in four of the remaining five, 
with that he amended. A second corn- he has offered objections or corrections on 
prises the very " egregious blunder" of subjects, where the charges of error only 
calling a piece of political rhyme a " bal- rebound upon himself. The fifteenth re- 
lad," when it is not written in " your fers to a subject where Warton candidly 
ballad-metre." In a third, Warton has acknowledges his inability to gratify the 
chosen to make a direct inference, where reader's curiosity. Thus, with the excep- 
the affair admits neither of absolute proof tion of the glossarial inaccuracies, of which 
nor disproof. And a fourth offers an opi- more will be said hereafter, Mr. Ritson 
nion, but a mere and guarded opinion, as can only be admitted to have corrected 
to the age of a poem, in which there is seven mistakes, or more rigidly speaking 
every reason to believe he was correct. five, in a 4to volume of 468 pages, and in 
(See Mr. Park's note, vol. ii. p. 104 c .) In the execution of which he has himself be- 
scven examples it may be allowed that come chargeable with/owr. 


him in the eyes of a man whose creed was confined to a rigid absti- 
nence from animal food ; with whom a clergyman was but another 
name for a " lazy, stinking and ignorant monk ;" and who seems never 
to have been better pleased, than when retailing the coarse and point- 
less ribaldry of the fifteenth century against the honours and dignities 
of an University. To this full measure of indiscretion, Warton had 
superadded a warm admiration of the powers and learning of Warbur- 
ton ; and had even adopted, and considerably amplified, the fanciful 
theory of this eminent prelate on the origin of romantic fiction. This 
again was siding with the enemy. The bishop of Gloucester had con- 
ducted a merciless prosecution against a sect of which Mr.Ritson made 
no scruple to acknowledge himself a follower, the " Kpicureorum factio, 
sequo semper errore a vero devia et ilia existimans ridenda quse ne- 
sciat 10 ," and unhappily for his fame and the cause he advocated, in the 
possession of a giant's strength had too frequently exercised it with the 
cruelty of a giant. The tyranny of the master was therefore to be 
avenged on the head of his otherwise too guilty pupil ; and the double 
end to be gained, of inflicting an insidious wound upon a foe too pow- 
erful to be encountered in the open field 11 , and crushing an unresisting 
and applauded rival. But enough of this revolting subject, of which 
justice to the memory of an amiable, unoffending and elegant scholar 
required that some notice should be taken, and which no language can 
be too strong to mark with deserved reprobation. 

It is now time to turn to those objections of Mr. Ritson, which em- 
brace the literary defects of the History of English Poetry. 

There can be no intention of dragging the reader through the minute 
and tedious details, with which this branch of the controversy is bur- 
thened. Wherever the better information of Mr. Ritson has been 
available, (at least in all cases where his reasoning has produced con- 
viction on the editor's mind,) his corrections will be found submitted in 
their appropriate places. But as the more important of these were di- 

10 Macrobins Som. Scipionis, in init. Round Table." Ib. p. 46. " The poet^| 

11 It is ludicrous in the extreme to ob- of Provence borrowed their art from the 
serve a man of Mr. Ritson's attainments, French or Normans." Ib. p. 50. "There 
stating Warburton's " distinguishing cha- is but one single romance existing that can 
racteristic" to be "a want of knowledge." be attributed to a troubadour." p. 51. 
The "habitual mendacity" of the same " Before the first crusade, or for more than 
learned prelate finds its parallel, if mere half a century after it, there was not one 
errors of opinion must receive thij bland single romance on the achievements of 
distinction, in such hasty assertions as the Arthur or his knights." Ib. p. 52. To 
following : " The real chanson de Roland enumerate all the unfounded assertions 
was unquestionably a metrical romance of contained in the section immediately fol- 
great length." Introd. to Met. Rom. p. 37. lowing "the Saxon and English language" 
" The Armoricans never possessed a single would be to write a small treatise. 

story on the subject of Arthur and the 

VOL. I. 1) 


rected against opinions rather than facts, and consequently, whether 
correct or inadmissible, could not always be inserted or combated in 
the body of the work, without deranging Warton's text or causing too 
frequent repetitions, they have been reserved for consideration here,/ 
and may be classed under the general heads of: objections to the 
Dissertation on the Origin of Romantic Fiction, the credibility of 
Geoffrey of Monmouth's history, the character of Warton's specimens, 
and his glossarial illustrations of them. 

If the object of this examination were a mere defence of Warton's 
opinions, by exposing the false positions assumed by his adversary, it 
would be an easy task to show that Mr. Ritson's sweeping assertions 
with regard to the general relations between the Moors in Spain and 
their conquered subjects, or even their Christian foes, are not borne 
out by the facts. The inferences he has drawn would consequently 
fall of themselves ; and it might be added, that the discoveries of our 
own times have sufficiently proved the possibility of this decried system 
being upheld, if the general principle it assumes, and which has been 
applied by Mr. Ritson to the progress of Romance in England, Italy 
and Germany, were otherwise allowable. The romance of Antar might 
be offered as a sufficient type for all subsequent tales of chivalry ; and 
the story of the Sid Batallah adduced as a proof, that the Spaniards 
could endow a national hero with a title borrowed from the favourite 
champion of their foes 12 . But this would be creating a phantom for 
the purpose of foiling an over-zealous adversary. The ends of truth 
will be better advanced by examining the causes which led to Warton's 
adoption of this dazzling theory, and an estimate of its application to 
the subject it was intended to develope. 

The light sketch given by Warburton of the origin of romance in 
Spain, traced the whole stream of chivalrous fiction to two sources, 
the chronicle of the Pseudo-Turpin relative to Charlemagne and his 
peers, and the British history of Geoffrey of Monmouth. In this system 
P there were many points totally irreconcileable with the state of the 
subject, both before and after the periods at which these productions 
obtained a circulation ; and it was therefore necessary to account for 

12 Of course this is only stated hypothe- among the Saracens. The Moorish Sid 

tically. The reason assigned in the Chro- died in the campaign against Constanti- 

nicle for the appellation is indisputably a nople, anno 738. See Jahrbiicher der 

fable; since every tributary Moor would Litteratur, No. 14. The German romances 

have used the same address, Sid, Master, on the story of the 'Saint Graal (to be 

to his Spanish liege lord. The Arabian noticed hereafter) are derived from an 

romance is noticed by Warton, Diss. i. p. Arabic source, through the medium of the 

xi. ; and Mr. von Hammer has recently Provei^al. 
borne evidence to its great popularity 


what might be termed, the anticipations of their narratives, and even 
their omissions, by the discovery of a more prolific fountain-head. A 
large portion of the marvellous imagery contained in the early poetry 
of Europe, was found to have its counterpart in the creations of Ori- 
ental genius. To account for this, by a direct communication between 
the East and West, was the problem that Warton proposed to solve ; 
and as the asra of the first crusade was too recent to meet the diffi- 
culties already alluded to, and Warburton had been supposed to prove 
that the first romances were of Spanish origin, the subject seemed to 
connect itself in a very natural order with the Moorish conquest of 
that country. A more extensive acquaintance with the general litera- 
ture of the dark and middle ages has fully proved the fallacy of this 
assumption, which could only have been entertained in the infancy of 
the study. But that such an hypothesis should have been conceived 
in this stage of the subject, will be no impeachment of Warton's gene- 
ral judgement, when it is recollected, that his contemporary Dr. Percy 
had adopted a system equally exclusive ; and that Dr. Ley den, at a 
later period, advocated a third upon the same contracted principles. 
The analogous conduct of such men, though not wholly exculpatory, 
is at least a proof that the causes for this procedure rested on no slight 
foundation. There is however one leading error in Warton's Disser- 
tation, an error it only shares in common with the theories opposed to 
it, arising from too confined a view of the natural limits of his subject, 
and too general an application of the system in detail. The conse- 
quence has been an unavoidable confusion between the essence and 
the costume of romantic fiction, and the exclusive appropriation of the 
common property of mankind to a particular age and people. Indeed, 
the learned projectors of these several systems no sooner begin to dis- 
close the details of their schemes, than we instantly recognise the ele- 
ments of national fable in every country of whose literature we possess 
a knowledge ; and notwithstanding the professed intention of conduct- 
ing an examination into the origin of romantic fiction, their disquisi- 
tions silently merge into the origin of fiction in general. To such an 
inquiry it is evident there can be no chronological limits. The fictions 
of one period, with some modification, are found to have had an exist- 
ence in that immediately preceding ; and the further we pursue the 
investigation, the more we become convinced of a regular transmis- 
sion through the succession of time, or that many seeming resem- 
blances and imitations are sprung from common organic causes, till at 
length the .question escapes us as a matter of historical research, and 



resolves itself into one purely psychological. It is even difficult to con- 
ceive any period of human existence, where the disposition to in- 
dulge in these illusions of fancy has not been a leading characteristic 
of the mind. The infancy of society, as the first in the order of 
time, also affords some circumstances highly favourable to the develop- 
ment of this faculty. In such a state, the secret and invisible bands 
which connect the human race with the animal and vegetable creation, 
are either felt more forcibly than in an age of conventional refinement, 
or are more frequently presented to the imagination. Man regards him- 
self then but as the first link in the chain of animate and inanimate na- 
ture, as the associate and fellow of all that exists around him, rather 
than as a separate being of a distinct and superior order. His atten- 
tion is arrested by the lifeless or breathing objects of his daily inter- 
course, not merely as they contribute to his numerous wants and plea- 
sures, but as they exhibit any affinity or more remote analogy with the 
mysterious properties of his being. Subject to the same laws of life 
and death, of procreation and decay, or partially endowed with the 
same passions, sympathies and propensities, the speechless companion 
of his toil and amusement, the forest in which he resides, or the plant 
which flourishes beneath his care, are to him but varied types of 
his own intricate organization. In the exterior form of these, the faith- 
ful record of his senses forbids any material change ; but the internal 
structure, which is wholly removed from the view, may be fashioned 
and constituted at pleasure. The qualities which this is to assume, 
need only be defined by the measure of the will; and hence we see that, 
not content with granting to each separate class a mere generic vitality 
suitable to its kind, he bestows on all the same mingled frame of matter 
and mind, which gives the chief value to his own existence. Nor is 
this playful exercise of the inventive faculties confined to the sentient 
objects of the creation ; it is extended over the whole material and im- 
material world, and applied to every thing of which the mind has either 
a perfect or only a faint conception. The physical phaenomena of na- 
ture, the tenets of a public creed, the speculations of ancient wisdom 13 , 
or the exposition of a moral duty, are alike subjected to the same fan- 

18 See the celebrated passage in the cause of existence as well as destruction 
Iliad viii. 17. relative to the golden chain to all; than me nothing higher is found, 
of Jupiter, with Heyne's account of the and nothing without me. O friend ! this 
interpretations bestowed upon it in the ALL hangs united on me like the pearls 
ancient world. Mr. F. Schlegel has given that are strung on a fillet." Ueber die 
a parallel passage from the Bhagavatgita, Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, p. 303. 
where Vishnu illustrates the extent of his See also II. i. 422. with the ancient expo- 
power by a similar image : " / am the sitors. 


tastic impress, and made to assume those forms which, by an approxi- 
mation to the animal contour, assist the understanding in seizing their 
peculiar qualities, and the memory in retaining them. It is this per- 
sonification of the blind efforts of nature, which has given rise to those 
wild and distorted elements that abound in all profane cosmogonies ; 
where, by a singular combination of the awful and sublime with the 
monstrous and revolting, an attempt is made to render intelligible those 
infinite energies of matter which surpass the limits of human compre- 
hension. The same law is evident in the obscure embodiment of a 
moral axiom, or an abstract quality, as shadowed forth in the enigma 14 ; 
in all that condensed imagery which has found its way into the pro- 
verbial expressions of nations ; and some of the most surprising in- 
cidents in romantic narrative have no better foundation than the con- 
version of a name into an event 15 . But of this universal tendency to 
confer a spiritual existence upon the lifeless productions of nature, and 
to give a corporeal form and expression to the properties and concep- 
tions of matter and mind, it would be superfluous to offer any laboured 
proof. The whole religious system of the ancient world, with one ex- 
ception, may be adduced as an exemplification of the fact ; and even 
the sacred writings of the Old Testament contain occasional indications 
of a similar practice 16 . 

The operation of this principle, while it is sufficient to account for 
all the marvels of popular fiction, will also lead to the establishment of 
two conclusions : first, that wherever there may have been any resem- 
blance in the objects calling it forth, the imagery produced will exhibit 
a corresponding similarity of character ; and secondly, that a large pro- 
portion of the symbols thus brought into circulation, like the primitive 
roots in language, will be found recurring in almost every country, as 
a common property inherited by descent. In illustration of these con- 

14 Considerable collections on this sub- doubt, that we are indebted to the name 
ject are to be found in the preface to Re- of Cypselus (a chest) for the marvellous 
senius's edition of the Edda. The whole story related by Herodotus, v. 92. See 
argument is very elaborately discussed also the fable relative to Priam (from 
in Mr. Creuzer's learned work, Symbolik TrpiavOai, Apollodorus Biblioth. ii. 6. 4.) 
und Mythologie der Alten Volker be- and Ajax (from aieros, Schol. in Find, 
senders der Griechen, vol. i. Leipsig 1st. 5-'. 76.). To the same cause, perhaps, 
1810. we may also attribute the tale of Pelops 

15 The name of Coeur de Lion has fur- and his ivory shoulder. The concurrent 
nished king Richard's romance with the practice of the minstrel poets will show 
well-known incident of his combat with a these recitals not to have been mere fancies 
lion. A still more remarkable illustration of the grammarians. 

of the same practice is to be found in the 16 See the fable of the trees, Judges ix. 

German romance, Heinrich der Lowe, or 8. ; of the thistle and the cedar, 2 Chro- 

Henry the Lion. See Gorres Volks- nicies xxv. 18. 
bucher, p. 91. There can be as little 


elusions, we need only refer to those local traditions of distant coun- 
tries which profess to record the history of some unusual appearance 
on the surface of the soil 17 , the peculiar character of a vegetable pro- 
duction, or the structure of a public monument. Whether in ancient 
Greece or modern Europe, every object of this kind that meets the 
traveller's eye is found to have a chronicle of its origin ; the causes 
assigned for its existence, or its natural and artificial attributes, wear a 
common mythic garb ; while in either country these narratives are so 
strikingly allied to the fictions of popular song, that it is sometimes dif- 
ficult to decide whether the muse lias supplied their substance, or been 
herself indebted to them for some of her most attractive incidents Ks . A 
mound of earth becomes the sepulchre of a favourite hero iy ; a pile of 
enormous stones, the easy labour of some gigantic craftsmen 20 ; a single 
one, the stupendous nstrument of daily exercise to a fabulous king Q1 ; 

*7 At the entrance of a cave near the 
plain of Marathon, Pausanias saw a num- 
ber of loose stones, which at a distance 
resembled goats. The country-people 
called them Pan's Flock. (Attica, 26.) 
A similar group on Marlborough Down is 
still called the Gray Wethers. A tuft of 
cypresses near Psophis, in Arcadia, was 
called the Virgins. (Arcad. c. 24.) On the 
downs between Wadebridge and St. Co- 
lumb, there is a line of stones called the 
Nine Maids. Borlase Ant. of Corn. p. 159. 
The Glastonbury thorn, which budded on 
Christmas day, was a dry hawthorn staff 
miraculously planted by St. Joseph. Col- 
linson's Somersetshire, ii. p. 265. This 
is a common miracle in the history of the 
Dionysic thyrsus. A myrtle at Trcezene, 
whose leaves were full of holes, was said 
to have been thus perforated by Phaedra 
in her moments of despair. (Paus. i. 22. 
See also ii. 28. and 32.) 

18 There can be little doubt that the 
story of the Phaeacian ship (Od. xiii. 163.) 
was taken from some local tradition well 
known at the period. In the time of Pro- 
copius it had become localized at the mo- 
dern Cassope ; notwithstanding an inscrip- 
tion explained the origin of the votive 
structure to which it was attached. At 
the present day, a small island near the 
harbour of Corfu, claims the honour of be- 
ing the original bark. In the same way 
many incidents in the Argonautica re- 
ceived a " local habitation." According 
to Timonax, Jason and Medea were mar- 
ried at Colchis, where the bridal bed was 
shown. Timeeus denied this, and referred 
to the nuptial altars at Cercyra. (Schol. 
in Apoll. Rhod. iv. 1217.) The earlir : :l 
version of this fiction may be supposed to 

have confirmed the Colchian tradition ; 
but as the limits of the sphere of action 
became extended, the later narratives of 
necessity embraced other fables. Hence 
the Argonautic poems became for ancient 
geography and local tradition, what the 
syncretic statues of Cybele were for an- 
cient symbols. The passage in Apollo- 
nius, 1. i. v. 1305. is evidently taken from 
a local fiction, as it refers to the racking- 
stones commemorating the event. 

19 In localizing these traditions, little 
regard is paid to the contending claims of 
other districts. Several mounds are shown 
in various parts of Denmark, as the graves 
of Vidrich Verlandsen, and as many of 
the giant Langbein. (Miiller Saga Biblio- 
thek, vol. ii. p. 224.) The residence of 
Habor and Signe, so celebrated in Danish 
sang, has been appropriated in the same 
way; and has given name to a variety of 
places. (Udvalgte Danske Viser, vol. iii. 
p. 403.) Scottish tradition has trans- 
ferred the burial-place of Thomas the 
Rhymer, from Erceldown to a tomhan 
which rises in a plain near Inverness. 
Grant's Essays, &c. vol. ii. p. 158. 

20 The Cyclops were the contrivers of 
these works in ancient times, whose place 
has been supplied by the Giants. See 
the books relative to Stonehenge, Giant's 
Causeway, &c. The Arabs have a tra- 
dition, that Cleopatra's needle was once 
surrounded by seven others, which were 
brought from mount Berym to Alex- 
andria, by seven giants of the tribe of 

21 The common people call a crom- 
leach, near Lligwy in Anglesea, Coeten 
Arthur, or Arthur's Quoit. Jones's Bardic 
Mu?. p. 60. The general character of the 


the conformation of a rock, or a mark upon its surface, attests the an- 
ger or the presence of some divinity 22 ; and the emblems and decora- 
tions of a monumental effigy must either be explained from the events 
of popular history- 3 , or perverted from their original character to give 
some passage in it a locality 24 . It is thus too that the volcanic erup- 
tions of Lydia, Sicily, Cilicia, and Boeotia, were respectively attributed 
to the agency of Typhon" ; that the purple tints upon certain flowers 
were said to have originated with the deaths of Ajax, Adonis, and 
Hyacinthus ; that the story of the man in the moon has found a circu- 
lation throughout the world ; and that the clash of elements in the 
thunder-storm was ascribed in Hellas to the rolling chariot-wheels of 
Jove 76 , and in Scandinavia to the ponderous waggon of the Norwegian 
Thor. The same general principle has likewise led to that community 
of ideas entertained by all mankind of the glories and felicities of the 
past. Every age has been delighted to dwell with sentiments of admi- 
ration upon the memory of the " good old times ;" they still continue 
to form a theme of fond and lavish applause ; and the philosophic Agis 
had to console his desponding countryman with a remark which every 
man's experience has made familiar, " that the fading virtues of later 
times were a cause of grief to his father Archidamus, who again had 
listened to the same regrets from his own venerable sire 27 ." In this, 
indeed, the feelings and conduct of nations in their collective capacity, 
only present us with a counterpart to individual opinion. The sinking 
energies of increasing age, like the dimness of enfeebled vision, have a 
constant tendency to deprive passing events of their natural sharpness 
of outline, and the broader features of their character ; and we learn to 
charge them with an indistinctness of form, and a sombre tameness of 
colouring, which only exists in the spectator's mind. The defects of 
our own impaired and waning organs become transferred to the change- 
Homeric poems will justify the conclusion, sence at the battle of Regillus. De Nat. 
that a similar monument supplied the in- Deor. iii. 5. 11. 2. 

cident in the Odyssey, viii. ver. 194. The 23 The statue of Nemesis at Rhamnus 

Locrians showed an enormous stone be- gave rise to a Grecian fable, that the stone 
fore the door of Euthymus, which he was of which it was made had been brought to 
said to have placed there by his own ef- Marathon by the Persians, for the pur- 
forts. Ael. V. Hist. viii. 18. pose of erecting a victorious trophy. 
22 At mount Sipylus in Attica, there (Paus. i. 33.) That it was a mere fable, 
was a rock, which at some distance re- every practice of their enemies clearly 
sembled a woman weeping; the inha- proves. 

bitants called it Niobe. (Paus. i. 21.) The 24 See the account of sir John Con- 

footstep of Hercules was seen imprinted on yers's tomb in Gough's Camden, iii. p. 
a rock near the river Tyra in Scythia, 114. 

Herod, iv. 82. In Cicero's time the marks 25 Schol. in Lycoph. v. 177. 

of the horses' hoofs of Castor and Pollux 26 Hesychius in v. e\Keffi(3povTa. 

were still shown as a proof of their prc? ~ 7 Plutarch. Apophtheg. Lncon. 17. 


less objects around us ; and in proportion as the imagination recalls the 
impressions of earlier life, when the sense enjoyed the robust and 
healthy action of youth, the present is doomed to suffer by an unjust 
and degrading contrast. Thus also in the lengthened vista of popu- 
lar tradition, every thing which is shrouded in the obscurity of a distant 
age, is made to partake of those physical and temporal advantages 
which the fancy has bestowed upon the reign of Saturn in Hesperia- 8 , 
or the joys of Asgard before the arrival of the gigantic visitants from 
Jotunheim 20 . The qualities of the mind, and the properties of the body, 
are then supposed to share in the native vigour of a young creation; and 
those cherished objects of man's early wishes, extreme longevity and 
great corporeal strength, are believed to be the enviable lot of all 30 . 
Hence the fictions of every country have agreed in regarding an un- 
usual extension of the thread of life as a mark of divine favour 31 ; and 
every national hero has been endowed with gigantic stature 3 ' 2 , and 

28 See Diod. Sic. iii. 61. Compare 
also Hesiod's account of the golden age, 
Op. et Dies, v. 108, &c, The comic side 
of the picture is to be found in Athen. 
1. vi. p. 267, &c. But the ancients always 
had some distant country, where these 
fancied blessings were still enjoyed. In 
the earlier periods, ^Ethiopia seems to 
liave been the name ascribed to this land 
of promise (II. 1. 423. Od. i. 22.); and 
hence perhaps the flattering, though some- 
what sobered picture, of its inhabitants 
given by Herodotus iii. c. 1724. Later 
traditions place the scene in the country 
of the Hyperboraeans, a people changing 
their locality from the northern extremity 
of Asia to that of Europe, or even the 
coast of Gaul (compare Diod. Sic. 2. c. 47. 
with Pomponius Mela, 3. c. 5.), and to 
whom Strabo, on the authority of Simo- 
nides and Pindar, has given a life of a 
thousand years, lib. xv. p. 711. Another 
chain of fiction assigns it to the isles of the 
West (Od. iv. 563), and from hence have 
sprung the descriptions of Horace (Epod. 
xvi. 41), and Plutarch (in Vit. Sertor.). 
I'or similar accounts of India see Ctesias 
ap. Wesseling's Herod, p. 831. and Pliny 
vii. 2. 

29 Edda of Snorro Dgemesaga, 12. 

a(> Josephus, after noticing the age of 
Noah, cites the testimonies of Manetho 
for the extreme longevity of the early 
Egyptians ; of Hieronymus for that of the 
Phoenicians; of Hesiod, Hecatams, &c. for 
the Grecians ; all of whom gave a thou- 
sand years to the life of man in the first 
periods of the world. Archseolog. i. c. 3. 
y. For the same advantage enjoyed by 

the early Egyptian kings, see Diod. Sic.i. 
26. and compare Pliny's account of the 
Arcadians and .ZEtolians, some of whom 
lived three hundred years. Hist. Nat. vii. 
48. The long-lived ^Ethiopians of Hero- 
dotus, who, be it remembered, were the 
tallest and most beautiful of mankind, 
usually lived 120 years. Herod, iii. c. 17. 

31 At the siege of Troy the "Pylian 
sage " was living his third age. II. i. 250. 
A Lycian tradition has assigned to Sar- 
pedon a life of three ages, as the favour- 
ite son of Jove. Apollod. Bibl. iii. 1, 2. 
Heyne, forgetful that we are here on my- 
thic ground, wishes to follow Diodorus, 
who attempts to give the narrative an air 
of probability, by making two Sarpedons, 
a grandsire and his grandson. Tiresias 
was said to have lived seven ages, and 
Agatharchides more than five. (Meurs. in 
Lycophr. v. 682.) Norna-Gest, as he 
lighted the candle on which his existence 
depended, said he was three hundred 
years old. (Norna-Gest Saga in Miiller's 
Saga-Bibliothek, vol. ii. p. 113.) Toke 
Tokesen was also fated to live two ages of 
man, Ib. p. 117. and Hildebrand, the in- 
vincible champion and Mentor of Theodo- 
ric, died aged 180 or 200 years. Ib. 278. 

32 The sandal of Perseus found at 
Chemnis was two cubits in length. Herod, 
ii. c. 91. The footstep of Hercules shown 
in Scythia, was of the same size. Ib. iv. c. 
82. ; though the more sober traditions 
make his whole stature only four cubits 
and a foot. (Herod. Ponticus ad Lycophr. 
v. 663.) Lycophron calls Achilles TOV 

, Cass. v. 860. The body of 


made to possess all those virtues which the common consent of mankind 
unites in considering so, or the ruder ethics of an earlier period have 
substituted for such. 

With regard to those standing types of popular fiction, which have 
been compared to the roots of language, the history of their application 
in various periods of society displays the same frequent recurrence of 
certain primitive images, and the same series of ever-changing analysis 
and combination which mark the growth and progress of language it- 
self. There will appear something fanciful perhaps in this comparison, 
yet the nearer we investigate it, the more we shall feel assured, that 
many of the laws which have governed the one are strictly analogous 
with those which have swayed the development of the other ; and that, 
however much we may dispute as to the causes which have called forth 
these important phenomena of the mind, their subsequent regulation 
is considerably less equivocal. The mass of primitives in every lan- 
guage, (even in those whose decided character gives them the aspect 
of parent dialects,) is well known to bear a very small proportion to the 
wealth of its vocabulary ; and at some stage of human existence, even 
these elementary terms must have been sufficient to express the wants, 
and effect an interchange of thought, between the several members of 
the community. As fresh necessities arose, and the bounds of know- 
ledge became extended, the original types in their simple import would 
be unequal to the demands of every new occasion ; and hence the in- 
troduction of a long roll of meanings to the primitives, and all the in- 
tricacies of analysis and synthesis, which have given wealth, dignity, 
and expression to language. There is however no fact more certain, 
within our knowledge of the past and our experience of the present, 
than that words neither have been nor are now invented; but that they 
always have been compounded from existing roots in the dialect re- 

Orestes when found measured seven cu- 111.) Theoderic of Berne was two ells 
bits. (Herod, i. c. 68.) And for the large broad between the shoulders, tall as an 
size of Ajax, Pelops and Theseus, see Eteu (giant), and stronger than any man 
Pans. i. 35. v. 13. and Pint, in Vit. c. 36. would believe who had not seen him. 
A Feroe song says of Sigurdr (the Sieg- (Wilkina-Saga, c. 14.) The grave of 
fred of the Nibelungen Lied), that he Gavvain was fourteen feet long, the re- 
grew more in one month than others did pute.i stature of Little John. (Ritson.) 
in twelve. (Compare the romance of Sir Of Arthur, Higden has said : " Also have 
Gowghther and Homer's account of Otus mynde that Arthures chyn-bone that was 
and Ephialtes, Od. xi. 308.) He was so thenne (on the discovery of his body at 
tall, that when he walked through a field Glastonbury) shewed, was lenger by thre 
of ripe rye, the point of his sword (which ynches than the legge and the knee of the 
was seven spans long) might be seen above lengest man, that was thenne founde. 
the standing corn. (Miiller, p. 61.) A Also the face of his forhede,bytvveene hys 
hair of his horse's tail, which Gest shuwed two cyen, was a sparine brode." Trevisa's 
king Oluf, measured seven ells. (Ib. p. transl. f. 290. rec. 


quiring them, or borrowed from some collateral source ; and for this 
very obvious reason, that any other mode of proceeding would wholly 
defeat the only end for which language was intended, the communica- 
tion of our wishes, feelings and opinions. That the progress of popular 
fiction has followed a nearly similar course, a slight consideration of 
the subject will tend to assure us. The extraordinary process already 
aHuded to, which, by endowing inanimate objects with sense, feeling, 
and spirituality, robs man of his proudest distinction, is no new creation 
of elementary forms previously unknown, but a simple transference of 
peculiar properties, the characteristics of a more perfect class of beings, 
to others less perfectly constituted. The prophetic ship, the grateful 
ant, the courteous tree 33 , et hoc genus omne, are none of them subjected 
to any mutation in their physical qualities ; they merely receive an ad- 
ditional grant of certain ethical attributes, which, like secondary mean- 
ings in language, enlarge their power without varying their natural ap- 
pearance. Even the personification of immaterial things, though ap- 
proaching nearest to the plastic nature of a really creative power, is 
but an extension of the same principle. For though in these the ex- 
ternal forms be wholly supplied by the fancy, the inherent qualities of 
the thing personified furnish the outline of all its moral endowments ; 
and the contrast between the abstract property in its original state, and 
the living image representing it, is not more striking than between the 
different objects which are expressed in language by one common sym- 
bol 34 . The wildest efforts of the imagination can only exhibit to us a 
fresh combination of well-known types drawn from the store-house of 
nature ; and it is the propriety of the new arrangement, the felicitous 
juxtaposition of the stranger elements in their novel relation to each 
other, which marks the .genius of the artist, which fixes the distance 
between a Boccacio and a Troveur, a Shakspeare and a Brooke 35 . 
The same chaste economy which has regulated the development of lan- 
guage, is equally conspicuous in the history of popular fiction ; and, 
like the vocabulary of a nation once supplied with a stock of appro- 
priate imagery, all its subsequent additions seem to have arisen in very 
slow progression. For this we must again refer to the prevailing state 

33 See Grimm's Kinder- und Haus- and Popular Fictions, and his Fairy My- 

Marchen and Muller's Saga-Bibliothek, thology. R. T.] 

passim. [See also German Popular Stories 34 The burning lava of jEtna was made 

translated from the above work of J. and the type of Typhceus's fury ; but the con- 

W. Grimm, and published with Notes in trast here is not greater than between those 

2 vols. 12mo. by the late Mr. Edgar Tay- objects of domestic use which are named 

lor, 1823 and 182G; and republished in after animals, such as a cat, dog, horse, &c. 

1839 in 1 vol. under the title of Gammer 35 See Brooke's poem on the subject of 

Grcthel ; see also Mr. Keightlcy's Tales Romeo and Juliet in Malonc's Shakspeare. 


of society and the condition of those common agents by whom both 
subjects have been fostered. The more degraded the intellectual cul- 
ture of a nation upon its first appearance in history, the poorer will be 
found its vocabulary, with reference to the innate resources of the lan- 
guage ; and the subsequent wealth of every dialect will be discovered 
to have been attendant upon the progress of civilization, and the acqui- 
sition of new ideas 36 . The patrons of popular fiction, as the very name 
implies, belong to that class of the community which, amid all the 
changes and revolutions that are operating around it, always retains a 
considerable portion of its primitive characteristics. Among these may 
be reckoned the narrow circle of its necessities in the use of language 
and expression, and the modest demands of its intellectual tastes, so 
opposite to that later epicurism of the mind, a refined and learned taste, 
which is only to be appeased by an unceasing round of novelties. Lin- 
acquainted with the feverish joys occasioned by the use of strong and 
fresh excitements, popular taste only asks for a repetition of its favour- 
ite themes ; and, blest with the pure and limited wants of infancy, it 
listens to the " twice-told tale" with the eagerness and simplicity of a 
child. It is on this principle that every country in Europe has invested 
its popular fictions with the same common marvels ; that all acknow- 
ledge the agency of the lifeless productions of nature ; the intervention 
of the same supernatural machinery; the existence of elves, fairies, 
dwarfs, giants, witches and enchanters ; the use of spells, charms and 
amulets ; and all those highly-gifted objects, of whatever form or name, 
whose attributes refute every principle of human experience, which are 
to conceal the possessor's person, annihilate the bounds of space, or 
command a gratification of all our wishes. These are the constantly- 
recurring types which embellish the popular tale, which hence have 
been transferred to the more laboured pages of romance ; and which, 
far from owing their first appearance in Europe to the Arabic conquest 
of Spain, or the migration of Odin to Scandinavia, are known to have 
been current on its eastern verge long anterior to the aera of legitimate 
history 37 . The Nereids of antiquity, the daughters of the " sea-born 

36 "J'ai eu des idees nouvelles ; il a Grimm, Sir W.Scott's Essay on the Faeries 

bien fallu trouver des nouveaux mots, ou of Popular Superstition (Minstrelsy, vol. 

donner aux anciens de nouvelles accep- ii.), and some useful collections in Brand's 

tions," says Montesquieu in the Adver- Popular Antiquities, vol. ii. A further 

tisement to his Esprit des Loix. consideration of the subject is reserved for 

3 ? It will be felt, that this intricate and another occasion ; when the authorities 

copious subject could only be generally for some opinions, which may appear 

noticed here. More ample sources of in- either too bold or paradoxical, and which 

formation are to be found in the preface could not be introduced here, will be given 

and notes to the Kinder- und Hans- at length. 
Marchen of Messrs. Jacob and William 


seer," are evidently the same with the Mermaids of the British and 
Northern shores ; the habitations of both are fixed in crystal caves, or 
coral palaces, beneath the waters of the ocean ; and they are alike di- 
stinguished for their partialities to the human race, and their prophetic 
powers in disclosing the events of futurity. The Naiads only differ in 
name from the Nixen 38 of Germany and Scandinavia (Nisser), or the 
Water- Elves of our countryman ^Elfric ; and the Nornae, who wove the 
web of life and sang the fortunes of the illustrious Helga, are but the 
same companions who attended Ilithyia at the births of lamos and Her- 
cules 39 , Indeed so striking is the resemblance between these divinities 
and the Grecian Mcerae, that we not only find them officiating at the 
birth of a hero,. conferring upon him an amulet which is to endow him 
with a charmed existence, or cutting short the thread of his being, but, 
like their prototype or parallel, varying in their number from three to 
nine, as they figure in their various avocations, of Nornae or Valkyriar, 
as Parcae or Muses 40 . In the Highland Urisks 41 , the Russian Le- 
schies 42 , and the Pomeranian or Wendish Berstucs 43 , we perceive the 

38 The Russian Rusalkis belong to the 
same family. They are represented as a 
race of beautiful virgins, with long green 
hair, living in lakes and rivers, and who 
were generally seen swinging on the 
branches of trees, bathing in the flood, or 
dressing their hair in the meads beside a 
running stream. Mone's continuation of 
Creuzer's Symbolik, vol. i. p. 145. 

39 Compare Helga quitha hin fyrsta, in 
Saemund's Edda, with Pindar Ol. vi. 72. 
and Anton. Liberalis, c. 29. 

40 A further illustration of this subject 
must also be reserved for a future publi- 

41 The Urisk has a figure between a 
goat and a man ; in short, precisely that 
of a Grecian Satyr. Notes to the Lady 
of the Lake, p. 356. There are few anti- 
quarian subjects requiring more revision 
tHan the modern nomenclature of this 
sylvan family. This confusion of charac- 
ter and name is no where more apparent 
than in the account of the ancient monu- 
ments in the British Museum. The Gre- 
cian Satyr is perfectly human in the lower 
extremities of his person; but the Panes 
(for the ancients acknowledged more than 
one Pan, as well as more than one Sile- 
nus) and Panisci preserved the legs and 
thighs of a goat. 

42 These Russian divinities had a hu- 
man body, horns on the head, projecting 
pointed ears, and a bushy beard. Below 
they were formed like a goat. (Compare 
the well-known group of Pan and Olym- 

pus in the Villa Albani, and the repre- 
sentations of the same subject in the Pit- 
ture d'Ercolano.) They had the power 
of changing their stature as they pleased. 
When they walked through the grass, 
they were just seen above it ; in walking 
through forests, their heads ranged above 
the highest trees. Woods and groves 
were consecrated to them, and no one 
dared offend them, as they excited in the 
culprit's mind the most appalling terrors, 
or in a feigned voice seduced him through 
unknown ways to their caves, where they 
tickled him to death. Mone, p. 143. 
Among the Finns these practices were at- 
tributed to a god Lekkio and a goddess 
Ajataa. The first assumed the form of a 
man, dog, crow, or some other bird, for 
the purpose of exciting terror ; and the 
latter led the traveller astray. Ib. 59. The 
reader will not fail to recognise in this the 
Panic terrors of the Arcadian god ; and to 
be reminded of the Olympian invocation, 
which called Pan Rhea's Kvva Travro- 
Sairov. Find. Frag. ap. Aristot. Rhetor, 
ii. 24. The irritable temperament of tlvese 
sylvan deities is also common to their par- 
allel. Theocritus, Id. i. v. 15. 

43 The worship of these deities appears 
to have been common to all the Sclavonic 
tribes situated between the Vistula and the 
Elbe. This district has been divided by 
some chroniclers into Pomerania and 
Vandalia, an arrangement which has 
caused the inhabitants of the latter to be 
confounded with the Teutonic invaders of 


same sylvan family, who, under the name of Panes and Panisci, presided 
over the fields and forests of Arcadia. The general meetings of the first 
were held on Ben-Venew, like the biennial assembly of the Fauns on 
mount Parnassus ; and the Sclavonian hunter invoked the assistance of 
his Zlebog 44 , the Finn of his Wainamoinen 45 , and the Laplander of his 
Storjunkare' 46 , with the same solemnity as that with which the Greek 
implored the aid of the " shaggy god of Arcady." Another feature 
in the national creed of the same mountainous district of Greece, is to 
be met with in the ballad of the Elfin-Gray 47 ; and if the testimony of 
^Elfric, in his translation of Dryades by Wudu-Elfen, is to be received 
as any thing more than a learned exercise 48 , the same notion must have 
prevailed in this country. But the collection from whence the ballad 
alluded to has been taken, the Danish Kiaempe-Viser, contains more 
than this single example of such a belief ; and the reader will find be- 
low 49 a local tradition, preserved in Germany, which will remind him 

the Empire. The term in the text has 
been borrowed from the German to avoid 
this inaccuracy; but Trevisa has shown 
that there was a name for it in England : 
" Wyntlandia, that ilonde is by-west Den- 
mark, and is a barren londe ; and men 
[go there] out of byleve, they selle wynde 
to the shypmen that come to theyr portes 
and havenes, as it were closed under 
knottes of threde. And as the knottes be 
unknytte the wynde wexe at theyr wylle." 
f. 32. In all their attributes the Berstucs 
appear to have been the same with the 
Russian Leschies. 

44 The head of the Berstucs was Zlebog, 
usually explained The angry god. Fren- 
eel de Diis Soraborum et aliorum Slavo- 
rum ap. Hoffmann Script. Rer. Lusat. 
torn. ii. p. 234-6. Care must be taken 
not to confound them with the Prussian 
dwarfs, called Barstuck ; and who perhaps 
have usurped a name which designates 
their form rather than their occupation. 
In Durham and Newcastle the English 
Puck is called Bar-quest. 

45 Wainamoinen was the inventor of 
the kandele (a stringed instrument played 
like the guitar), and the author of all in- 
ventions which have benefited the human 
race. He was implored by the hunter, 
the fisherman and the birdcatcher, to play 
upon his kandele, that the game might 
fall into their nets. Mone, 54. 

46 This name has been borrowed from 

the Norwegians. In Tornea Lapland the 
same deity is called Seite. He is supreme 
lord of the whole animal creation (with 
the exception of the human race), and 
patron of hunting, fishing, &c. He fre- 

quently appears to the fishermen &c. of 

Lulea Lapmark, dressed like a Norwegian 
nobleman in black, of a tall and com- 
manding figure, with the feet of a bird, 
and with a gun on his shoulder. His ap- 
pearance never fails to produce a success- 
ful fishery or chase. Mone, 36. 

4 ? See the Notes to the Lady of the 

48 It may be questioned, whether this 
catalogue of^Elfric's(dun-elfen,berg-elfen, 
munt-elfen, feld-elfen, wudu-elfen, sss- 
elfen, water-elfen,) ever obtained a cir- 
culation among the people. It is at least 
rendered extremely suspicious by its 
strict accordance with the import of the 
Grecian names. 

49 "A peasant named Hans Krepel, 
being one day at work on a heath near 
Salzburg, 'a little wild or moss-wifie' 
appeared to him, and begged that on 
leaving his labour he would cut three 
crosses on the last tree he hewed down. 
This request the man neglected to comply 
with. On the following day she appeared 
again, saying, ' Ah ! my man, why did you 
not cut the three crosses yesterday ? It 
would have been of service both to me and 
yourself. In the evening, and especially 
at night, we are constantly hunted by the 
wild huntsmen, and are obliged to allow 
them to worry us, unless we can reach 
one of these trees with a cross on it ; for 
from thence they have no power to remove 
us.' To this the boor replied with his 
wonted churlishness, ' Pooh ! pooh ! of 
what use can it be ? how can the crosses 
help you? I shall do no such thing to 
please you, indeed.' Upon this the wyfie 


of the conversation between Peraebius and an Hamadryad. How far 
the Duergar of the Edda were originally distinct from a similar class of 
dwarfish agents, who are to be met with in the popular creed of every 
European nation, cannot now be precisely ascertained 50 . The earliest 
memorials of them in the fictions of Germany and Scandinavia, present 
us with the same metallurgic divinities who in the mythology of Hellas 
were known by the various names of Cabiri, Hephsesti, Telchines, and 
Idaean Dactyli 51 . In the other countries of Europe, the traces of their 

flew upon him, and squeezed him so 
forcibly that he became ill after it, not- 
withstanding he was a stout fellow. Such 
wyfies, and even mannikins, are said to 
dwell upon that heath, under the ground, 
or in obscure parts of the forest, and to 
have holes, in which they lie on green 
moss, as indeed they are said to be clothed 
all over with moss." Praetorius says, he 
heard this story from an old dame, who 
knew the before-mentioned Hans Krepel, 
and adds, the time of day was a [little] 
after noon, an hour not usually devoted 
to labour, because at such a time "this 
sort of diablerie frequently occurs." An- 
thropodemusPlutonicus, Magdeburg 16C6. 
vol. ii. p. 231. For this superstitious at- 
tention to silence at noon, see Theocritus, 
Id. i. v. 15.; and for the persecution of 
the Nymphs by Pan, the romance of 
Longus, p. 63. ed. Villoison, where it is 
said of him, Traverai de ovdeTroTe Apv- 
acriv evo")(Xi>)v, KCLI ETri/ti^Xicri Nvju^ais 
TTjoayjwara Trape^wv. The passage re- 
lative to the Hamadryad, who threatened 
Peraebius with the consequences of neg- 
lecting to prop the falling oak, in which 
she lived, is to be found in the Schol. to 
Apollon. Rhod. ii. v. 479. 

50 The Northern traditions relative to 
the Duerga, are among the most obscure 
points of Eddaic lore, and are too import- 
ant to be discussed in a note. Their re- 
sidence in stone seems to be a portion of 
the same belief which gave rise to the 
XiOoL e/ii//t^oi of antiquity. The author 
of the Orphic poem on stones mentions one 
in the possession of Helenus, which not 
only uttered oracular responses, but was 
perceived to breathe, ver. 339. et seq. 
Photius (coll. 242. p. 1062, from the life 
of Isidorus by Damascius) mentions an- 
other in the possession of a certain Euse- 
bius. This was a meteoric stone, which 
had fallen from heaven. On being asked 
to what deity it belonged, it replied, 
Gennaeus a god worshiped at the Sy- 
rian Heliopolis. Others were said to be 
subject to Saturn, Jupiter, the Sun, &c. 
(For this notion of the daemons being the 

subordinate followers of some superior 
god, whose name they bore, see Plutarch 
de Defectu Orac. 21.) This will serve to 
illustrate the account given by Pausanias 
of the thirty stones at Pharae, each of 
which was inscribed with the name of 
some god. (vii. c. 22.) Damascius thought 
the stone in question to be under divine, 
Isidorus only demoniacal influence. Pho- 
tius treats the whole story as a mere piece 
of jugglery. Plato, however, has said, 
that these lithic oracles were of the same 
antiquity as that of the oak at Dodona. 
Phaedrus 276. 

51 The spirit of later times, with its 
characteristic tendency of studying beauty 
of form in all its imagery, having con- 
verted these ancient deities into the youth- 
ful Curetes, Corybantes and Dioscuri, a 
confusion arose in the nomenclature of 
them which wholly baffled the attempts of 
Strabo to reduce into a system. See the 
tenth book of this geographer, under the 
head of Theologoumena. The Dwarf of 
ancient mythology is perhaps best repre- 
sented on the coins of Cossyra, where the 
figure closely accords with the description 
of the mining dwarf given by Praetorius, 
i. p. 243. Another representation, from 
the creed of Egypt, may be seen among 
the terracottas of the British Museum, 
No. 42. Mr. Coombe calls "this short 
naked human figure " Osiris ; but there 
can be little doubt, that it exhibits the 
dwarfish god of Memphis, whose deformity 
excited the scorn and ridicule of Cam- 
byses. This deity, whether we call him 
Phthas or Hephaestus, resembled in his 
person the Pataeci or tutelary divinities of 
Phoenicia, to whom Herodotus has assign- 
ed the figure of a pygmy man. (Thalia, c. 
37.) The attributes on this anda similar mo- 
nument may be easily accounted for. The 
reader who is desirous of learning the es- 
teem in which these divinities were held 
in the ancient world, may consult a treatise 
" On the Deities of Samothrace " by 
Mr. von Schelling, a gentleman chiefly 
known in Europe for his philosophical 
works, but who is known to his friends 


existence as a separate class, chiefly occupied in the labours of the 
forge, are not so clearly defined; and if a few scattered traditions 52 
seem to favour a contrary opinion, it is equally certain that they have 
been more frequently confounded with a kindred race, the Brownies or 
Fairies. The former, as is well known, are the same diminutive beings 
with the Lares of Latium, an order of beneficent spirits, whom Cicero 53 
has taught us to consider as nearly identical with the Grecian Daemon, 
In Germany they have received a long catalogue of appellations, all 
descriptive of their form, their disposition, or their dress ; but whether 
marked by the title of Gutichen, Brownie, Lar, or Daemon, we observe 
in all the same points of general resemblance ; all have been alike re- 
garded as the guardians of the domestic hearth, the awarders of pros- 
perity, and the averters of evil ; and the author of the Orphic Hymn 
endows the particular Daemon of his invocation with the same attri- 
butes that are given by Hildebrand to the whole tribe of Gutichens or 
"gude neighbours 54 ." The English Puck, the Scottish Bogle, the 
French Esprit Follet, or Goblin the Gobelinus of monkish Latinity 
and the German Kobold, are only varied names for the Grecian Koba- 
lus 65 ; whose sole delight consisted in perplexing the human race, and 
calling up those harmless terrors that constantly hover round the minds 
of the timid. To excite the wrath, indeed, of this mischievous spirit, 
was attended with fatal consequences to the luckless objects who rashly 
courted it; and Preetorius (i. p. 140.) has preserved a notice of his 
cruelty to some miners of St. Anneberg, to whom he appeared under the 
guise of the Scottish Kelpie, with a horse's head, and whom he destroy- 
ed by his pestiferous breath. The midnight depredators mentioned by 

for his extensive erudition in every branch names for any kind of spirit, and corre- 

of ancient and modern learning, and who, spond to the " Pouk " of Piers Plouhman. 

among the numerous virtues that adorn In Danish " spog " means a joke, trick or 

his private character, is particularly di- prank; and hence the character of Robin 

stinguished for his hospitality to the Goodfellow. In Iceland, Puki is regarded 

"stranger, who sojourns in a foreign as an evil sprite ; and in the language of 

land." that country "atpukra" means both to 

52 Essay on the Faeries of popular Su- make a murmuring noise, and to steal 
perstition, p. 163. clandestinely. The names of these spirits 

53 " Quanquam enim Daemon latius seem to have originated in their boisterous 
patere quodam modo videatur, non du- temper. " Spuken," Germ., to make a 
bito tamen quin melius sit, Larem, quam noise ; " spog," Dan., obstreperous mirth ; 
Dsemonem vertere, ut sit species pro ge- " pukke," Dan. to boast, scold. The Ger- 
nere." De Universitate. mans use "pochen," in the same figurative 

54 Hymn 72. and Hildebrand vom sense, though literally it means to strike, 
Hexenwerke, p. 310. beat, and is the same with our poke. In 

55 See the Scholiast to Aristoph. Plut. Ditmarsh, the brownie, or domestic fairy, 
v. 279. The English and Scottish terms is called Nitsche-Puk. The French "gobe- 
are the same as the German " Spuk," and lin " seems to spring either from a dimi- 
the Danish " Spogelse," without the sibi- nutive Koboldein ? or a feminine termi- 
lant aspiration. These words are general nation, Koboldinn ? 


Gervase of Tilbury, who oppressed the sleeper, injured his person, de- 
spoiled his property, and bore off his children, are either confounded 
by that worthy chronicler with the separate characters of the Ephialtes 
and Lamia ; or the local creed of some particular spot had concentrated 
in his day the propensities of both in one personage. The numerous 
tales gathered by Praetorius observe the classical distinctions of anti- 
quity ; with them it is the Incubus or Alp, who causes those painful 
sensations during sleep, which the ancient physicians have so aptly 
termed the nocturnal epilepsy ; and it is the same race of misshapen 
old hags with the Lamiae of Gervase 56 , who, like the ancient Lamia 
larvata, alternately terrify and carry away the infant from his cradle. 

Sir Walter Scott, from whose Essay " on the Faeries of Popular Su- 
perstition " the preceding notice of the Lamiae recorded by Gervase 
has been taken, has also extracted from the Physica Curiosa of Schott, 
a Frisian account of the same destructive tribe, where a similar con- 
fusion appears to prevail, though with a different class of spirits. " In 
the time of the Emperor Lotharius, in 830," says Schott, " many spectres 
infested Friesland, particularly the white nymphs of the ancients, which 
the moderns denominate witte wiven, who inhabited a subterraneous 
cavern, formed in a wonderful manner, without human art, on the top 
of a lofty mountain. These were accustomed to surprise benighted 
travellers, shepherds watching their herds and flocks, and women newly 
delivered, with their children; and convey them into their caverns, 
from which subterraneous murmurs, the cries of children, the groans 
and lamentations of men, and sometimes imperfect words and all kinds 
of musical sounds were heard to proceed." Divested of the colouring 
which seems to identify these spectres " with the fairies of popular opi- 
nion," a parallel fiction is related by Antonius Liberalis (c. 8.) in his 
account of Sybaris, to whom others gave the more appropriate title of 
Lamia ; and, with a change of sex in the agent, the same idea is found 

56 With this class must also be reckon- racter ; and of which Vossius has said : 

ed the Gyre-Carline, or mother-witch of " Nam erunt Lamise spectra in formosa- 

Scotland, whose name is so expressive of rum mulierum figuram conformata, quse 

her character (gyr-falcon, ger-hound, adolescentes formosos voluptatibus deli- 

Trevisa). niebant, dum eos devorarent." Etymolog. 

Thair dwelt ane grit Gyre-Carling, in S. Lat. in Lamia. Compare also' Diodo- 

awld Betokis bour, rus s account of the queen of Libyssa, 

That levit upoun Christiane menis flesche, L ? 754 ' Vossius has likewise shown 

and rewheids unleipit. that the same notion was current m Jud^a. 

There is one circumstance in the history 

In this she becomes identified with the of the Gyre-Carline, which runs through 

" Raw-head-and-bloody-bone,s " of the all mythology : 

English nursery. In the fiction on which T 

the beautiful ballad of Glenfinlas is found- ^ P* Betok was l ' rn 

ed, we have the poetic version of her cha- Scho ( the G ' Carhne ) bred f an acorn *- 


in the curious narratives of Pausanias and ^Elian, relative to the " dark 
daemon " or hero of Temessa 57 . The earliest memorial of them in 
European fiction is preserved to us in the Anglo-Saxon poem of Beo- 
wulf. In this curious repository of genuine Northern tradition, by far 
the most interesting portion of the work is devoted to an account of the 
hero's combats with a male and female spirit, whose nightly ravages in the 
hall of Hrothgar are marked by all the atrocities of the Grecian fable. 

Under the comprehensive name of Fairy, almost every member of 
the preceding catalogue has been indiscriminately mingled in the 
living recitals of the cotter's family circle, and the printed collections 
of our popular tales. A slight attention, however, to the distinctive 
marks established in the ancient world, will easily remedy the confusion ; 
and few readers will require to be told, that the fairies who attend the 
birth and foretell the fortunes of a hero or heroine, who connect the 
destinies of some favoured object with the observance of a command or 
the preservation of an amulet, are the venerable Parca? of antiquity. 
The same rule will hold good of the rest ; and it therefore only remains 
to notice the Fairy of romance, and the Elf or Fairy of the mountain- 
heath. The former has been considered to have derived her origin 
from the same country which has supplied us with the name. For this 
hypothesis there is better reason than usually attaches itself to the so- 
lution of an antiquarian problem by the etymologist ; and Warton has 

57 Vid. jElian. Hist. viii. c. 18. Pau- nicors or nicers, a species of sea monster 
sanias, vi. 6. The people of Temessa of which many fables are current at the 
having slain a companion of Ulysses, (who present day in Iceland, and who in the 
had violated the chastity of a virgin,) his true spirit of a berserkr, undertakes the 
spirit sought revenge, by carrying slaugh- task of subduing Grendel from a pure love 
ter and destruction into every house and of glory. The result in both fables is the 
the whole country round. The Pythian same. The dark daemon is worsted and 
oracle recommended the erection of a sinks into a lake, where he afterwards is 
temple, the consecration of a grove, and found dead of his wounds. The female 
an annual sacrifice of the fairest virgin in spirit is Grendel's mother's, who answers 
Temessa, as the only means of appeasing to the description of A. Liberalis. It may 
the angry spirit. This was done. On one be worth noticing, that a picture preserved 
of these occasions, an Olympian victor at Temessa, representing the combat of 
named Euthymus, inspired by mingled Euthymus, exhibited the daemon clothed 
feelings of love and compassion for the in a wolf-skin, and the name of the north- 
beautiful victim, resolved on effecting her ern hero is Beo-wulf, the wolf-tamer, 
rescue; and having awaited the arrival of [If ulfbe considered to mean Help, as 
the daemon, a struggle ensued, from which in Rad-ulf, Bot-ulf, &c., the w may belong 
the latter made his escape, and for ever, to the first syllable. In a short note which 
by sinking into the sea. The ravages of I communicated to Mr. Conybeare (Illus- 
Grendel appear have been prompted by trations of A. Sax. Poetry, 1826, p. 286,) 
the death of an uncle. Hrothgar (in whose I suggested that Beaw, or Beowius, of the 
palace the spirit's nightly incursions are genealogies in the Saxon Chronicle and 
made) and his council vainly implore the W. of Malrnesbury, was identical with 
powers of hell (it is a Christian who thus Beowulf, " Cutha and Cuthwulf being also 
denominates the gods of the heathen king) used indifferently : comp. A. 495 and 854." 
for the means of commuting the deadly Beaw occupies the same place in the series 
feud. The intelligence reaches Beowulf, with Biaf of Snorro's Edda, ed. Goransson, 
a champion who had acquired an exten- p. 6. R.T.] 
sive reputation by his victories over the 

VOL. I. C 


already shown that the titles of the most distinguished in European 
romance are borrowed almost to the letter from the fables of the East. 
The Persian Mergian and Urganda have unquestionably furnished Ita- 
lian poetry with its Morgana and Urganda ; and there is considerable 
plausibility in the assertion 58 , that the Peri of the former country has 

58 This guarded mode of expression 
must not be mistaken for a love of para- 
dox ; it has proceeded from doubts in the 
writer's mind, which at present he wants 
leisure to satisfy. The French term for 
our fairy or fay is fee; and, like the Ita- 
lian fata, is said to be derived from fatua. 
" Faerie" was a general name for an illu- 
sion ; a sense in which it is always used 
by Chaucer. As an appellation for the 
elfin-race, in this country, it is certainly 
of late date ; and perhaps a mere corrup- 

tion, a name given to the agent from his 
acts. It is certainly not of Northern ori- 
gin. Some of the earliest French tales of 
"faerie" acknowledge a Breton source; 
may not the term itself be Celtic ? The 
" Ionic Pheres of Hesychius," which has 
been mentioned as an apparent synonym 
with the Persian Peri, is but a different 
aspiration of the Attic 6rjp (Germ."thier"); 
and which, whether applied to centaurs or 
satyrs, could only b,ave been given to mark 
their affinity with the animal race. 

[Further examination wholly excludes the supposed connection of the word FAIRY 
with the Persian Peri. Indeed as Feerie is obviously formed from Fee in the same 
manner as diablerie from diable, or chevalerie from cheval, the origin of the mono- 
syllable Fay or Fee only is to be sought, without the formative termination ; and the 
forms in which this word and its congeners exist in the Romance dialects seem to 
leave no doubt that the Latin Fatum is its real source, 

Fata, the Fates. 

Fata, enchantress. 


Hadas, Hadadas, witches, 

enchanttd nymphs. 
Hadar, to divine. 
Hadado, lucky. 

Fatare, to charm. 

Fatatum, destined. Fatato, destined, 
(Sallust, B. Cat. c. 47.) charmed. 

Hadador, sorcerer. 
Fatatura, charm. 

Thus, Fatum, Fee, Fairy: 
just as Pratum, Pre, Prairie. 

Mr. Tyrwhitt has the following note on 
the word Faerie, in the Wif of Bathes 
Tale : " Feerie, Fr. from fee, the French 
name for those fantastical beings which in 
the Gothick languages are called Alfs or 
Elves. The corresponding names to fee 
in the other Romance dialects are fata, 
Ital., and hada, Span. ; so that it is pro- 
bable that all three are derived from the 
Lat. fatum, which in the barbarous ages 
was corrupted into fatus and fata. See 
Menage, in v. Fee. Du Cange, in v. Fadus. 

Mr. Keightley, in his Tales and Popu- 
lar Fictions, 1834, p. 340, expresses his 
opinion, " that, as from the Latin grains 
came the Italian verb aggradare, and the 
French agreer, so from fatum came affa- 
tare,fatare, (Ital.) and faer, feer, (Fr.), 
signifying to enchant ; and that fato, fata, 
fae,faee,fee, are participles of these verbs. 
I believe there is not a single passage in 
the old French romances, in which these 
last words occur, where they may not be 
taken participially ; such are les chevaliers 
faes, les dames faees, and the continually 
recurring phrase elle sembloit (or ressem- 
bloit)fee. La fee is, therefore, lafemme 


Feer, to enchant. 


fee, and une fee is une femmefee In 

the Pentamerone/ata and fatata are evi- 
dently employed as equivalents. I there- 
fore regard fata as nothing more than 
fatata, contracted after the usual rule of 
the Italian language, and esteem unafatato 
signify merely una donnafatata." 

See also Mr. Keightley's Fairy Mytho- 
logy, 1833, vol. i. p. 1 1, and vol. ii. pp. 239, 
309 ; where the conclusions at which he 
arrives coincide with those given in the 
above note, which, with Mr. Price's appro- 
bation, I appended to the Edition of 1824, 
vol. iv. p. 482. 

Mr. Keightley enumerates the following 
conjectures as to the etymology of Fay, 
and Fairy : Hebr. IKS), beauty : Greek, 
0/,oes : Lat. Fatua the wife of Faunus, 
and the last syllable of Nym-pha : Per- 
sian peri : Breton,/*^, or mat, good : A.S. 
far an, to go : O. Eng. feres, companions : 
Eng. fair. The A. Sax. fcege, or fceie, 
Scotch fey, resembles in appearance ; but 
I am not aware that it has ever been re- 
ferred to, and its meaning is fated to die. 
Vide infra, p. Ixxi. R. TAYLOR.] 


been transmitted through the medium of the Arabic. But uniformity of 
name, even admitting an identity of character, is insufficient to prove 
that the idea attached to the new appellative is of no older date in the 
country to which it has been transferred than the period when the 
stranger term was first introduced. The Pelasgian priesthood recom- 
mended the adoption of Egyptian titles for the unnamed divinities of 
Hellenic worship, on discovering that their secret had been divulged ; 
and the adoration of the Bsetyli precedes the annals of authentic history 
in Greece, while the name is of foreign extraction, and evidently bor- 
rowed at a very late period. If therefore the English * fairy,' or the 
French ( f eerie,' have been imported from the East, the term itself 
must be of comparatively recent date ; though the popular notion re- 
specting the nature and attributes of the beings who bore it is wholly 
lost in the twilight of antiquity. There is no essential difference be- 
tween the Persian Peri and the Grecian Nymph, however variedly the 
inventive genius of either country may have endowed them in points 
of minor consideration. They are both the common offspring of the 
same speculative opinion, which peopled the elements with a race of 
purer essences, as the connecting link between man and his Creator; 
and the modern Persian, in adopting those " who hover in the balmy 
clouds 59 , live in the colours of the rainbow, and exist on the odour of 
flowers," has only fixed his choice upon a different class from the an- 
cient Greek. It will however be remembered, that in the particulars 
just enumerated, the Fairies of Italian romance bear no resemblance 
to the Peris of the East ; and that, in almost every thing else except 
the name, they are, for the most part, only a reproduction of the Circe 
and Calypso of the Odyssey. The Fairies in the Lays of Lanval and 
Graelent, or in the romances of Melusina and Partenopex de Blois, 
have neither the gross propensities of the daughter of Helios, nor the 
power and exalted rank of the Ogygian enchantress. They approach 
nearer, both in character and fortunes, to the nymphs who sought the 
alliance or yielded to the importunities of Daphnis and Rhoecus 60 , and, 
like their Grecian predecessors, were equally doomed to experience 
the hollow frailty of human engagements. The conditions imposed 
upon the heroes of Hellenic fable were the same in substance, though 
somewhat differing in form, from those enjoined the knights of French 

59 These aerial nymphs were not foreign 60 For Daphnis see Parthenius, c. 18 ; 

to the Grecian creed ; at least the celestial for Rhoecus Schol. in Apoll. Rhod. ii. 

nymphs of Mnesimachus can only be ac- v. 479. See also the history of Caunus in 

counted for on this notion. Schol. in Conon, c. 2. ; and of Philammon, Ib. c. 7. 
Apollon. Rhod. iv. v. 1412. 



romance, and were alike transgressed from motives of self-gratification, 
or a weak compliance with the solicitations of others. There is some- 
thing more consolatory in the final catastrophe attached to the modern 
fictions ; but this, as is well known, has been taken, in common with 
the general outline of the events, from the beautiful apologue of Apu- 
leius One of the earliest tales of faery in our own language, and per- 
haps the most important for the influence it seems to have had on later 
productions, is contained in the old romance of Orfeo and Heurodis 61 . 
The leading incidents of this poem have been borrowed from the clas- 
sical story of Orpheus and Eurydice, and Mr. Ritson has truly pro- 
nounced its character in saying, This lay or tale is a Gothic metamor- 
phosis of the episode so beautifully related by Ovid. A later writer, 
from whose authority it is rarely safe to deviate, and to whose illustra- 
tions of popular fiction the present sketch is so much indebted, has re- 
jected this opinion, and produced it as an example of "Gothic mythology 
engrafted on the fables of Greece 62 ." In support of this assertion, 
even Sir Walter Scott's extensive knowledge of the subject might find 
it difficult to offer anything like satisfactory proof. 

The minor embellishments of the poem, the rank and quality of Or- 
pheus, the picture of his court, the occupations of the Elfin king, and 
the fortunate issue of the harper's descent, are certainly foreign to the 
Grecian story, and have been either copied from the institutions of the 
minstrel's age, or are the ready suggestions of his own invention. But 
the whole machinery of the fable the power of Pluto and his queen 
(for such Chaucer has instructed us to call the king of Faery), the 
brilliant description of Elfin land, its glorious abodes and delightful 
scenery, and the joyous revelry of those who had secured a residence 
in the regions of bliss, and the miseries 

Of folke that were thidder ybrought, 
And thought dead and were nought, 

are of legitimate Grecian origin, and may be read with little variety of 
style, though with less minuteness of detail, in the visions of Thespesius 
and Timarchus, recorded by Plutarch 63 . 

61 It is to be regretted that Mr. Ritson De Genio Socrat. c. 22. If to these the 
chose to follow the Harleian MS. of this reader will add Pindar's description of the 
romance, which is so palpably inferior to Elysian amusements (cited in Plut.Consol. 
the Auchinleck copy. ad Apoll. c. 35. and with some additions 

62 Essay on the Faeries, &c. ut supra. in his tract De Occulte Vivendo, c. vii.) 
[Also Mr. Keightley's Fairy Mythology.] and the narrative of the Socratic yEschines 

61 De Sera Num. Vind. c, 22. (where (Axiochus, 20.) on the same subject, he 

the text reads Soleus the Thespesian ; but will find a parallel for almost every pecu- 

Wyttenbach has approved of Reiske's cor- liarity of these regions mentioned in the 

rection, which reverses the terms) and Auchinleck MS. of Orfeo. The popular 


The history of such descents, whether professing to be made in per- 
son, or by a separation of " the intelligent soul " from its grosser fel- 
low, and the body 64 , was a favourite topic in the ancient world ; and 
many visions of the infernal regions which are made to figure in modern 
hagiology, from the narrative of Bede 6b to the metrical legend of Owain 
Miles, have borrowed largely from these pagan sources. It is however 
obvious, that Chaucer's " Pluto king of Fayrie" and his " Queen Pros- 
erpina" have been derived from this or a similar source; and the con- 
fusion which has arisen between the Fairies of Romance and the Elves 
of rural tradition, may in all probability be ascribed " to those poets 
who have adopted his phraseology." By Dunbar, Pluto is styled " an 
elricke incubus in a clothe of grene," the well-known elfin livery ; and 
Montgomery confers upon the " king of Pharie" the same verdant 
garb, an elvish stature, and weds him to the Elf-queen. 

All grathed into green, 

Some hobland on a hemp-stalk, hovand to the hight, 
The king of Pharie and his court, with the Elf-queen, 
With many elfish incubus was ridand that night. 

There is nothing in the " Marchaunt's Tale" to justify this diminution 
of king Pluto's fair proportions, or to identify Queen Proserpina with 
the Elf-queen. But in another of Chaucer's tales, the practices of the 
latter and her followers are called " faeries" or illusive visions ; and it 
will easily be felt, that the use of a common name to denote their re- 
spective actions, might eventually lead to the notion of a community of 

In olde dayes of the king Artour 
All was this lond ful filled of faerie ; 

view of the subject is discussed in his deeply into Northern and Oriental mytho- 
usual manner by Lucian in his several logy. The lady Similt, while seated be- 
pieces, Ver. Hist. ii. Necyom. Catapl. and neath a linden tree, is carried off by king 
Philops., and a compound of esoteric and Laurin in the same clandestine manner 
exoteric doctrines on the same point is to that the king of Faerie conveys away 
be found in the Frogs of Aristophanes. Heurodis. (See Weber's Illustrations of 
Sir Walter Scott justly considers the ymp- Northern Antiquities, p. 150.) The rock 
tree, a tree consecrated to some daemon, of entrance to the fairy realm is the Xew- 
rather than a grafted tree, as interpreted icada TreTprjv of the Odyssey, xxiv. 11.; 
by Mr. Ritson. This point of popular and perhaps the lapis manalis of Latium. 
superstition seems to be referred to by 64 See Wyttenbach's note to the vision 
Socrates in the Phaedrus, where, with his of Thespesius, concerning this division of 
accustomed style of irony, he ascribes a the soul into vovs and ip^X*?? an <l the 
sudden fit of nympholepsy to the vicinage sources from whence Plutarch obtained it. 
of a plane-tree adorned with images, and C5 Hist. Ecclesiast., lib. v. c. 13. Corn- 
dedicated to the Nymphs. (Phaedr. 276.) pare also the vision or trance of the Pam- 
But this idea of daemoniacal trees enters phylian Er in Plato's Itep. lib. x. in fine, 


The elf-quene with her joly compaynie, 
Danced ful oft in many a grene mede. 
But now can no man see non elves mo, 
For the grete charitee and prayeres 
Of limitoures, and other holy freres, 
That serchen euery land, and euery streme 
This maketh that ther ben no faeries. 
For ther as wont to walken was an elf 
Ther walketh now the limitour himself. 


However this may be, there can be little doubt that at one period the 
popular creed made the same distinctions between the queen of Faerie 
and the Elf-queen that were observed in Grecian mythology between 
their undoubted parallels, Artemis and Persephone. At present the 
traces of this division are only faintly discernible ; and in the Scottish 
ballad of Tamlane, (Minstrelsy, vol. ii.) the hero, though "a wee wee 
man," declares himself & fairy both in " lyth and limb," a communica- 
tion which leaves us at no loss to divine the size of the fairy queen 
who had " borrowed him." The beautiful ballad of Thomas the 
Rhymer 66 , and even the burlesque imitation of some forgotten romance 
by Chaucer in his " Rhyme of Sir Thopas," make the Elf-queen 
either joint or sole sovereign of fairy-land; while the locality, scenery 
and inhabitants of the country prove it to be the same district de- 
scribed in Sir Orfeo. In the former fiction she is represented as only 
quitting the court of her grisly spouse, to chase the " wild fee" upon 
earth 6 ?; her costume and attributes are of the same sylvan cast with 
those which distinguished the huntress-queen of antiquity ; and the 
fame of her beauty inspires the lovelorn Sir Thopas with the same rash 
resolves which from a similar cause were said to have fired the bosom 
of Pirithous. In the remaining details of Thomas the Rhymer, she is 

66 The editor has already sinned too of his birth-place. The strong power of 

deeply against the fame of true Thomas, local association has been sufficiently ma- 

(see infra, p. 96.) to make the conceal- nifested in the character acquired by a 

inent of his opinion respecting this my- recent residence at Erceldoune. See pre- 

sterious personage a saving condition on face to Sir Tristram. 

which he might build a hope of forgive- 6 ? A very veracious gentleman in one of 

ness for his previous indiscretion. He Lucian's dialogues, has borne testimony 

will therefore further state that, after con- to the hunting propensities of the Queen 

trasting the little we know of the real, of Hell, whom he calls Hecate. (Philops. 

withthefictitioushistoryofauldRymer," c. 17.) The account of the elf-queen and 

he has arrived at that conviction, which is her followers while engaged in the chase 

easier felt than accounted for, that the laird maybe compared with Od. vii. 101. and 

of Erccldoun has usurped the honours and Virgil's imitation of the same passage, 

reputation of some earlier seer, and ga- JEn. i. 498. 
thercd round his name the local tradition 


clearly identified with the daughter of Demeter ; and the description 
of the journey to Eli-land 68 will remind the reader of a story in ^lian 
respecting the fabled Anostos, or that country whose expressive name 
has been so aptly paraphrased, 

The bourne from whence no traveller returns. 

In the Grecian fiction, "the blude that's shed on earth" seems rather 
to have impregnated the atmosphere 69 , than dyed " the springs of 
that countrie :" but the rivers that flowed around it, the waters of joy 
and grief, each produced a tree, whose fruits were as marvellous in 
their effects as the apple bestowed on " true Thomas." Nor is the 
prophetic power acquired by the Rhymer in consequence of his visit 
to this unearthly region, a novel feature in the history of such fictions. 
In one of Plutarch's tracts 70 , a certain Cleombrotus entertains the 
company with an account of an eastern traveller, whose character and 
fortunes are still more remarkable than those of the Scottish seer. Of 
this man we are told, that he only appeared among his fellow mortals 
once a year. The rest of his time was spent in the society of the 
nymphs and demons, who had granted him an unusual share of per- 
sonal beauty, had rendered him proof against disease, and supplied him 
with a fruit, which was to satisfy his hunger, and of which he partook 
only once a month. He was moreover endowed with a miraculous gift 
of tongues, his conversation resembled a spontaneous flow of verse, his 
knowledge was universal, and an annual visitation of prophetic fervor 
enabled him to unfold the hidden secrets of futurity. 

The Elves and Fairies of rural tradition who " dance their ringlets 
to the whistling wind," and the traces of whose midnight revels are still 
detected on the sward, seem originally to have been distinguished from 
the Fairies of romance, by their diminutive stature and the use of a 
common livery. In the former circumstance popular fiction has only 

68 Three days they travel through dark- See Milan, Var. Hist. iii. 18. In Lu- 

ness, up to their knees in water, and only cian's Ver. Hist. ii. 3. (and which contains 

hear the " swowyng of the flode." In only exaggerated statements of popular 

this we have the ocean stream and Cim- opinion), one of the rivers encompassing 

merian darkness, Od. xi. 13. The spot his region of torment flows with blood, 

where Thomas laid his head in the lady's The bloody Acherousian rock in Aristo- 

lap, is the same cross-way in which Minos, phanes (Frogs, 474.) appears to be con- 

Rhadamanthus, and ^Eacus held their nected with a similar notion, 
tribunal; one of whose roads led to the 7 De Defectu Oraculorum, c, 21. Lu- 

isles of the blest, and the other to Tarta- cian plays upon the supposed knowledge 

rus. Plat. Gorg. p. 524. The forbidden of future events gained by a visit to the 

fruit, whose taste cut off all hope of re- infernal regions, in his Ver. Hist. ii. and. 

turn, is another version of the pomegra- Philops. For the use made of it by mo- 

natc-apple which figures so mysteriously dern poets see Heyne's fourteenth Excur- 

in the history of Proserpine. sus to the sixth book of the JEneid. 


been faithful to the earliest creed of nations, respecting the size and 
form of their domestic and inferior deities ; and of which examples are 
to be found in the household gods of Laban, the Pataeci of Phenicia, 
the Cabiri of Egypt and Samothrace, the Idaean Dactyli of Crete, the 
Anaces of Athens, the Dioscuri of Lacedaemon, the earth-god Tages 
of Etruria, and the Lares of Latium. It would be out of place to enter 
here upon the probable causes which have led to this community of 
opinions as to the stature of these subordinate divinities ; and it will be 
sufficient to remark, that the practice of romance in elevating them to 
the standard of "human mortals 71 ," has only followed an ancient pre- 
cedent already noticed in speaking of the dwarfs. There is even reason 
to believe, that the occasional adoption of a larger form was not wholly 
inconsistent with the popular belief on the subject ; since the fairy of 
Alice Pearson once appeared to her in " the guise of a lustie man," and 
the ballad of Tamlane admits a change of shape to be a leading cha- 
racteristic of the whole fairy race : 

Our shape and size we can convert 
To either large or small ; 

An old nutshell 's the same to us 
As is the lofty hall.?' 

But the stature of the Elves and Fairies who presided over the mountain- 
heath, will find a parallel in a kindred race, the rural Lars of Italy ; 
while their attributes, their habitations, their length of life, and even 
their name, will establish their affinity with the Grecian nymphs. 
" Their drinking-cup or horn," which was " to prove a cornucopia of 
good fortune to him who had the courage to seize it 73 ," is the sacred 
chalice of the Nymphs, whose inexhaustible resources are so frequently 
noticed in Grecian fable, and to which we shall again have occasion to 

71 A distinction used by Titania in the 7 * See the Essay on the Fairies, &c., 
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii. sc. 2. where mention is made of the goblet pre- 

72 The minor details of this ballad wear served in Eden-hall in Cumberland, on 
too modern an aspect to make it of au- which the prosperity of the Musgrave 
thority, unless supported by other testi- family depended. Prsetorius informs us, 
mony. The story however is indisputably that a member of the house of Alvesch- 
ancient. The same power has been al- leben received a ring from a Nixe, to 
ready noticed in the Russian Leschies, which the future fortunes of his desc<nd- 
and is also ascribed to king Laurin in the ants were said to be attached. Anthropode- 
Little Garden of Roses, p. 153. mus Plutonicus, i. p. 113. Another Ger- 
Little was king Laurin, but from many man family, the Ranzaus, held their pros- 

a precious gem perity by the tenure of a fairy spindle. 

His wondrous strength and power and his lb - P- 1J 5. The Scholiast to Lucian's 

bold courage came ; Rllet - Praecept says, that every prosperous 

Tall at times his stature grew, with spells person was supposed to have Amaltheea's 

ofgrammary, [he be. horn in his possession. 

Then to the noblest princes fellow might 


refer. The places of their abode, the interior of green hills, or the 
islands of a mountain-lake, with all the gorgeous decorations of their 
dwellings, are but a repetition of the Dionysic and Nymphseic caves 
described by Plutarch and Diodorus 74 ; and their term of life, like the 
existence of the daughters of Ocean, though extending to an immea- 
surable length 75 when compared with that of the human race, had still 
its prescribed and settled limits. To this it may be added, that the dif- 
ferent appellations assigned them in Hellas and Northern Europe, ap- 
pear to have arisen from a common idea of their nature ; and that in 
the respective languages of these countries the words elf and nymph 76 
convey a similar meaning. 

After this brief review of a most important subdivision of the ele- 
ments of popular fiction, it will not be too much to affirm, that if their 
introduction into Europe, and their application to the embellishment of 
romantic poetry, had been dependent upon foreign agency, the national 
creed of Greece has the fairest claim to be considered as the parent 
source. But in this, as in so many other points of public faith com- 
mon to the Greek and the Barbarian, it is impossible not to perceive 
the fragments of a belief brought from some earlier seat of empire, and 
which neither could have been imported into Hellas and Western Europe 
by a new dynasty of kings, nor communicated by a band of roving 
minstrels. In the illustrations they have received during the long course 
of their preservation, and under circumstances so varying as all the 
public and private events that fill the histories of these countries, there 
will of course be many particulars exhibiting little affinity with each 
other, and which taken separately may seem to deny this community 
of their origin. But even these, when carefully examined, will be 
mostly found to resolve themselves into distinctions arising from a dif- 
ference of national character, or corruptions produced by some later 
change in national institutions ; and the most discordant will hardly 
afford a stronger contrast in their lineaments, than the physical differ- 

? 4 See Plutarch de Sera Num. Vind., a stream of running water, and hence the 

and Diod. Sic. lib. iii. c. 68. name of the river Elbe. The Grecian 

? 3 For the lives of the fairies, see Mr. vv[A<f>t) has the same import with the Latin 

Reed's note to the Midsummer Night's lympha, an idea which is also preserved 

Dream, in the variorum edition of Shak- in the Roman name for the disease called 

speare ; for that of the Nymphs (which Nympholepsy. " Vulgo autem memoriae 

Hesiod makes equal to nine thousand proditum est, quicumque speciem quan- 

seven hundred and twenty years), Plu- dam e fonte, id est, effigiem nyrr.phae vi- 

tarch De Defectu Oraculor. c. xi. Pindar derint, furendi non fecisse (inem, quos 

gives the Dryads a much shorter term, or Graeci vv[j,(po\riTrTovs, Latini lymphalos 

a life equivalent to that of the trees they appellant." Fcstus, ap. Salm. Exercit. 

inhabit. Ib. Plin. 7C5. [Alveus ; Alpheus.] 

76 In the Northern languages elf means 


ences displayed in the conformation of the human frame upon the 
shores of the ^JEgean Sea and the banks of the Frozen Ocean. In 
Greece, like every thing else which has been exposed to the refining 
taste of that extraordinary people, they will all be found submitted to 
the same plastic norm which fitted the bard's " thick-coming fancies" 
for the studies of the sculptor : and in modern Europe, a new religion, 
in attempting to curtail their influence or obliterate the remembrance 
of them, has more or less corrupted the memorials of their attributes. 
It is to the latter that we must more particularly look for an explanation 
of those anomalies, which not only appear to contradict our recollec- 
tions of antiquity, but occasionally to exhibit the popular faith as being 
at variance with itself. It will scarcely need remark, that the intro- 
duction of Christianity among the nations of the West, must speedily 
have effected a change in general opinion, as to the right, and the de- 
gree, in which these imaginary divinities were commissioned to exert a 
power over the destinies of man. But so gradual were the successes 
of the triumphant faith over this particular branch of the ancient creed, 
that although the memory of "Thunaer, Wodan, and Saxnote 77 ,"(?) is 

77 Such are the names of the three di- 
vinities mentioned in the Francic profes- 
sion of faith published by Eccard. Francia 
Orientalis, vol. i. p. 440. Ek forsacho 
Thunaer ende Woden, ende Sax- 
note, end allem them unholdum the hira 
genotas sint. I renounce (forsake) Thu- 
naer and Wodan and Saxnote, and all 
those impious (spirits) that are their as- 
sociates. The name of Saxnote has been 
a stumbling-block to the critics, and ap- 
pears likely to remain so. In its present 
condition the word has certainly no intel- 
ligible meaning, and, if correct, refers to 
a deity of whom no other trace exists. 
The usual interpretation, Saxon Odin, is 
a mere conjecture, and certainly not a 
happy one. The same may be said of Mr. 
A. W. Schlegel's emendation (Indische 
Bibliothek, p. 256.) of Saxrnote or assem- 
bly of the Saxons, at which they celebrated 
heathen festivals, and which is as objec- 
tionable on the score of grammar as the 
decried Saxnote. One remarkable cir- 
cumstance in the present text is, that 
Thunaer and Wodan are not inflected, 
while the conjunction has gained the very 
addition in which they are defective. It 
is to be regretted that no one has consulted 
the original document since the publica- 
tion of the first transcript. It is difficult 
to understand why this formulary should 
be made the foundation of a theory, that 
Wodan and Odin are distinct personages. 

The well-known practice of the Scandi- 
navian dialects, which suppresses the aspi- 
rate in all those words that in the cog- 
nate tongues begin with a w, will suffi- 
ciently account for the difference of ortho- 
graphy. That they occupied the same 
rank in the respective mythologies of the 
two great Teutonic stocks, is confirmed 
by the days named after them. In En- 
gland we have had successively Wodnes- 
dag and Wednesday (prout Wensday). 
In Denmark it has been Odins-dagr and 
Oens-dag. It was from this circumstance, 
in all probability, coupled with the notion 
of Wodan's or Odin's psychopompic du- 
ties, that the Romans were induced to 
consider him as the same deity with their 
own Mercury. In an Etruscan patera 
published by Winkelmann and afterwards 
by Lanzi, this god is seen weighing the 
souls of Memnon and Achilles; which 
would afford another reason for the sup- 
posed affinity. But the worship of Odin 
as supreme God, like that of Dionysus in 
his mysteries, and perhaps of Osiris (see 
Zoega De Usu Obeliscorum), appears to 
have been a comparatively recent feature 
in the Northern creed. Thunaer, Thor, 
was the Thunderer, and hel'd the same 
precedence in Norway, the last refuge of 
his worship, that he does in the Francic 
renunciation. The day consecrated by his 
name was also the Northern sabbath. 
There is so much affinity between some 


scarcely distinguishable among the documents of several centuries, a 
continued belief in the agency of their subordinate associates still main- 
tains its sway over every sequestered district of Northern Europe. 
Perhaps the sweeping clause which was to embrace the whole of this 
fraternity, and who were far too numerous to be specifically named, 
either admitted of an accommodating latitude in the interpretation, or 
was taken with considerable mental reservation. However this may 
be, we shall have no difficulty in believing that the expounders of the 
new religion were rarely free from those impressions which, imbibed in 
early infancy, the reason vainly struggles to eradicate in after life, and 
of which it may be said, that however little they generally appear to 
govern our external conduct, they always maintain their ground in the 
recesses of the mind. Few could have been bold enough to assert that 
the memorials of the past, and the alleged experience of the present, 
had no better foundation than the terrors and caprice of an over-heated 
imagination, or those illusions of the sense which owe their existence 
to disease or defective organization. Many must have retained a lurk- 
ing conviction of the truth of their former belief ; and even where this 
was not the case, the weapon which had been so successfully wielded 
in crushing the rule of Wodan, could only be exerted with diminished 
effect ; since the same day which heard the proofs of his identity with 
the Evil One, also witnessed the suppression of that ceremonial which 
alone ensured the permanency of the public faith. On the other hand, 
the superstitions of the forest, the mountain, or the domestic hearth, 
were attended with but few rites, and those of such a nature as to be 
easily concealed from the general eye. The divinities addressed were 
mostly local, either attached to particular places, persons, or things, 
and only petitioned or deprecated in matters of private interest. And 
however forcibly it might be urged that their interference in human 
affairs was only prompted by the machinations of Satan, yet as this 
was nothing better than a change of name in the cause, without denying 
the effect, and no equivalent agency was made to supply its place, these 
arguments only tended to corrupt without extirpating the obnoxious 
opinions. The consequence of such a temporizing system, but which, 
with reference to the state of society that it was called upon to influ- 
ence, contains more practical wisdom than it has usually received credit 
for, was a gradual amalgamation of the ancient and established faith. 

parts of the history of Odih, Dionysus, and and ^Egyptian mythology, without viola- 
Osiris, that the name of either might be ting the general truth of the recital, 
substituted in the respective accounts of ["Vodden, er ver kaullum OJrin." Snor- 
Snorro, and the several writers on Greek ro's Edda, p. 6.] 


In those documents approaching nearest to the aera of a nation's con- 
version, such as the oldest Icelandic Sagas, we find the mention of these 
domestic deities attended with no diminution of their power, or dero- 
gation from their former rank. In later periods they are chiefly noticed 
to mark the malignancy of their disposition, or to ridicule their impo- 
tent pretensions, and occasionally they are brought forward to bear their 
reluctant testimony to the superiority of the dominant faith. From this 
source have emanated those recitals which exhibit to us either dwarfs 
or fairies expressing a desire of procuring the baptismal rite for their 
infant offspring ; and those corruptions of a still later age, which repre- 
sent their condition as only seemingly felicitous, and the joys and mar- 
vels of their subterranean abodes as the mere varnished exterior of 
misery and filth 78 . It is true, where the stream of tradition has con- 
tinued pure, we still find them spoken of as the beneficent friends and 
protectors of mankind ; as still in the enjoyment of their attributes and 
pleasures, their gardens of ever-blooming verdure, 'their adamantine 
palaces, their feasts, their revelry, their super-earthly and entrancing 
music. The Gael indeed has condemned his Daoine Shi' to the hollow 
mockery of these delights ; but the Cymry, more faithful to the tenets 
of his ancestors, believes his Tylwyth Teg to be in the continuance of 
their former rights and happiness, which the folly alone of the human 
race has deprived the present generation from sharing in 79 . 

There will be no necessity for entering minutely into those embel- 
lishments of popular fiction, which owe their existence to a general be- 
lief in the powers of magic, sortilege, and divination 80 . The conformity 

78 Perhaps to these ought to be added human nature has frailties enough to an- 

" the paying the kane to hell;" but if, as swer for, without ascribing to its " malig- 

it is believed, the whole fairy system be nity " the invention of magic rites and ce- 

but another name for the ancient demon- remonies. Nothing can be more clear in 

ology, the fine may be explained upon this important chapter of the history of 

other principles. The same argument the human mind, than that the invocation 

will then apply to the declaration of the and the charm have regularly descended 

Northumbrian dwarf, who hoped for an from the exploded liturgies of the temple ; 

ultimate though remote salvation. See and that the discarded mantle of infant 

notes to the Lady of the Lake. The bet- science has " rested on" the wizard and 

ter portion of the ancient demons were the crone. The beldame who mutters the 

souls in a progressive advancement to- spell over the bruise or the wound, only 

wards perfection, and on their return to practises the same honourable " craft " 

their celestial birth-place. which proved the divine descent of the 

? 9 See Grahame's Sketches, &c. quoted Asclepiades ; and the cattle-spayer of Fin- 

in the notes to the Lady of the Lake, and land publicly chants the Runic rhyme, 

Davies's Celtic Mythology, p. 156. at the present day, with the same assu- 

80 It may be right to caution the reader ranee of its efficacy with which the epode 

against a very common error, in which was sung by the priests of Pergamus and 

the motives that gave rise to the practice Epidaurus. Comp. Pind. Pyth. iii. 91. 

of magic and divination have been con- These arts, like their names, bore once a 

founded with the criminal abuses that sacred character ; and however much they 

sprang from their use in later times. Poor may have been made to minister to the 


of practice between the ancient and modern world in their application 
of these several arts has been generally acknowledged, and no exclusive 
theory has obtained to account for the mode of their transmission. 
Warton indeed has observed, that "the Runic (Northern) magic is 
more like that of Canidia in Horace, the Romantic resembles that of 
Armida in Tasso :" but this is an artificial distinction, which had no 
existence in the popular creed, however much it may seem to be au- 
thorized by the documents to which he has referred. The magic of 
the North (like the poetry in which it is found) may in a great degree 
be considered as only a genial reflex of the practices of daily life ; since 
many of the records preserving it were written at a period when the 
charms to produce the surprising effects noticed by Warton might more 
or less be procured at every wizard's cell. The magic of romance with 
" the sublime solemnity of its necromantic machinery " was obviously a 
matter of only traditional belief. A few vain pretenders to superior 
intelligence in the art could alone have professed to accomplish its 
marvels 81 , or some equally silly boasters to have witnessed them; and 
having sprung from the busy workings of the fancy in decorating the 
tamer elements of the popular faith, could have no other existence than 
in its own fictitious memorials. On this account it is of necessity 
wanting in all those poems which, like the early Icelandic songs, make 
the slightest pretensions to historical worth ; and can only abound in 
such productions as either treat of subjects professedly mythological, 
or are the manifest creation of the writer's invention. An injudicious 
comparison of these very opposite kinds of composition, has clearly led 
to the erroneous opinion offered by Warton ; and it will be sufficient 
to remark, that the legitimate spell of " grammarye" is to be found in 

follies and vices of the multitude, in their attention, and to invest himself with the ti- 
decried and degraded state, they are clear- tie Faustus junior : " Sic enim titulum sibi 
ly referable in their origin to one of the convenientem formavit magister Georgius 
most exalted principles of our nature, or Sabellicus Faustus junior, fons necroman- 
(to use the language of Prometheus) were ticorum, astrologus, magus secundus, chi- 
first resorted to daipoaiv TTOOS rjdovr)v romanticus, agromariticus, pyromanticus, 
(^Esch. P. V. v. 494.). Their history may et in hydra arte secundus." Mr. Gb'rres 
tend to confirm the axiom, that the re- has given this passage from a letter of 
ligious usages of one age often become Trithemius, dated August 20, 1507. The 
the superstition of a succeeding one : but venerable Abbot, after noticing several of 
it will also teach the more consolatory his idle boasts, proceeds : " In ultima quo- 
doctrine, that the impulses of the human que hujus anni quadragesima venit Stau- 
heart may be founded in error, without ronesum (Creutznach), et simili stultitia 
necessarily involving either malignity or gloriosus de se pollicebatur ingentia, di- 
crime. cens se in Alchemia omnium qui fuerint 
81 Among these may be reckoned the unquam esse perfectissimum, et scire at- 
mysterious personage, who in the six- que posse quicquid homines optaverint" 
teenth century availed himself of a widely See Gorres Volks-biicher, p. 242, 
circulated tradition to excite the public 


the Odyssey, the Edda, and the popular tale 82 , as well as in those ro- 
mances which suggested the use of it to Tasso. If more frequently 
resorted to in later compositions than in the earlier fictions, we must 
rather attribute this circumstance to the spirit of the times in which 
they were written, than to any want of faith in the auditors of a ruder 
age : the extravagant events of Beowulf's life might make many a bold 
romancer blush for the poverty of his imagination. 

In referring to those various objects of inanimate nature whose mar- 
vellous attributes are usually classed among the chief attractions of ro- 
mance, it will be equally unnecessary to enter largely into the question 
of their origin, as the recent labours of abler antiquaries 83 have clearly 
proved that we are not indebted to the middle age for their first ap- 
pearance in popular poetry. For every purpose of the present inquiry, 
it will be sufficient to enumerate a few of the most important points of 
coincidence between the fictions of the ancient and modern world ; and, 
in noticing some of the disguises under which a common idea has been 
made to pass from one narrative to another, to evince the fondness of 
popular taste for a constant recurrence of its favourite types. MM. 
Grimm have already shown that the fatal garment of Dejanira, and 
which by Euripides has been connected with a later fable, still lives 
in the German tale of Faithful John ; and that no image is more com- 
mon, or assumes a greater variety of forms, in the current fictions of 
their native country, than the insidious present sent by Vulcan to his 
mother Juno 84 . 

Another favourite symbol, and entering deeply into the decorations 
of romance, is the talisman of virtue, by which the frailties of either 
sex were exposed to public detection ; and which Mr. Dunlop, with 
his accustomed accuracy, has referred to the trial at the Stygian foun- 
tain, and traced through the Greek romances of the Empire to the 
romances of chivalry and the pages of Ariosto. In the prose romance 
of Tristram, whence the poet of Ferrara most probably borrowed it, 
the ordeal consists in quaffing the beverage of a drinking-horn, which 
no sooner approaches the culprit's lips, than the contents are wasted 
over his person. In Perceforest and in Amadis, a garland and rose, 
which " bloom on the head of her who is faithful, and fade upon the 
brow of the inconstant," are the proofs of the appellant's purity : and 

82 See the Odyss. x'rii. 190. Thor's ad- German Popular Stories, translated from 

ventures at Utgarda, Daemesaga, 41. and that work] ; and a valuable essay on the 

Chaucer's Frankelein's Tale. same subject contained in the Quarterly 

88 See the preface and notes to the Review, No. xxxvii. 

Kinder- und Haus-Marchen of MM. M Kinder- und Haus-Marchen, vol. iii. 

Grimm [also the late Mr. Edgar Taylor's p. 19 and 149. 


in the ballad published by Dr. Percy, of the Boy and the Mantle, 
where the same test is introduced, the minstrel poet has adhered to the 
traditions of Wales, which attribute a similar power to the mantle, the 
knife, and the goblet of Tegau Euroron, the chaste and lovely bride 
of Caradoc with the strong arm 86 . From hence it may have been 
transferred to the girdle of Florimel, in the Fairy Queen ; while Al- 
bertus Magnus, in affirming that " a magnet placed beneath the pillow 
of an incontinent woman will infallibly eject her from her bed," has 
preserved to us the vulgar, and perhaps the earliest, belief on the sub- 
ject 86 . The glass of Agrippa, which, till our own times, played a di- 
stinguished part in the history of the gallant Surry, has been recently 
made familiar to the reader's acquaintance by the German story of 
Snowdrop 87 . But this, in all probability, has only descended to us 
from a mirror preserved near the temple of Ceres at Patras; or 
one less artificially constructed, though more miraculously gifted, a 
well near the oracle of Apollo Thurxis, in Lycia 88 . The zone of 
Hippolyte 89 , which gave a supernatural vigour to the " thews and 
limbs " of the wearer, is not to be distinguished from the girdle of the 
Norwegian Thor ; and there can be little doubt, that the brisingamen 
of Freyia, which graced the person of the same pugnacious deity on 
his visit to Thrymheim 90 , is the cestus of Venus under another name 
and form. Without possessing either the aegis-hialmr of the Edda, or 
the aegis of Minerva, it might be dangerous to assert that these petri- 
fying objects are verbally identical ; since nothing short of their terrific 
power would be a sufficient protection against the host of Hellenic 
philologers, whom such a declaration would infallibly call to arms 91 . 

85 Jones's Bardic Museum, p. 60 ; from 88 See Pausanias, vii. 21. The former 
whence all the subsequent notices of Bri- only exhibited the person and condition 
tish marvel have been taken. of health of the party inquired after ; 

86 This power is given to the magnet, the latter displayed whatever was desired, 
in the Orphic poem on Stones, v. 314, &c. 89 Et%e $ e 'iTnroXvTri TOV Apeos %ta- 

87 See the German Popular Stories <rr?7pa,(rujU/3oXovrov7rpwreuen>d7ra<ra>v. 
from the Kinder- und Haus-Marchen of Apollod. Bibl. ii. 5. 9. In Parsee lore the 
MM. Grimm, p. 133. It is to be hoped girdle was a symbol of power over Ahri- 
that the ingenious translator of this col- man. In the Little Rose-garden, the belt 
lection will continue his labours. The of Thor has descended to king Laurin. 
nature of his plan seems to have excluded Weber, p. 153. The ring given by the lady 
many of the tales most interesting to an Similt to her brother Dietlieb, also ensured 
antiquary ; but a supplementary volume, victory to him who wore it. Ib. p. 164. 
containing some of these, accompanied 90 See Ssemund's Edda, Thryms-Quida. 
with that illustration which the translator 91 Aiyis may have meant a breastplate 
appears so well able to supply, would or helmet made of goat-skin, just as KWCIJ 
greatly increase our obligation to him. meant a skull-cap or helmet made of dog- 
[The late Mr. Edgar Taylor subsequently skin ; but the fable on which the Greek 
published a second volume, but on the grammarians have accounted for the ap- 
same plan as the first : these he re-edited, plication of the term to the armour of 
shortly before his decease, in one volume, Jupiter and his daughter, is an idle fabri- 
with the title " Gammer Grethel," 1839.] cation. The qualities of this weapon un- 


In obedience, therefore, to the dictates of " the better part of valour," 
it will be most prudent to remark, that they strikingly agree in their 
appalling attributes, and that the thunderer of Norway was as efficient- 
ly armed for combat as his brother of Olympus. This segis-hialmr is 
affirmed to have been the crafty workmanship of the dwarfs, the re- 
puted authors of every " cunning instrument " in Northern fiction ; and 
who manufactured for An the Bow-swinger and Orvar Odd those highly - 
tempered arrows, which, like the fabled dart of Procris, never missed 
their object ; and having inflicted a mortal wound, returned to the 
bowstring which had emitted them r2 . Another specimen of their in- 
genuity is the ship of Freyr, called Skidbladnir, which though suffi- 
ciently spacious to contain the whole tribe of the Asse, with their arms 
and equipments, was yet so artfully contrived, that it might be folded 
like a handkerchief and carried about in the pocket 13 . The sails of 
this extraordinary vessel were no sooner hoisted than a favourable wind 
sprang up ; an attribute which has descended to another ornament of 
Icelandic fable, the bark Ellide : but this, like the first, and often est- 
sung, of ancient ships, was also gifted with the power of understanding 
human speech 94 . Homer, however, has told us, that the fleets of Alci- 
nous combined the advantage of the favouring gale with an intelligence 
which enabled them to divine the wishes of those they bore, and that 
they also had the power of reaching their destined port without the 
assistance of a helmsman or a guide. 

So shalt thou instant reach the realm assign'd, 
In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind : 
No helm secures their course, no pilot guides ; 
Like men intelligent, they plough the tides ; 
Conscious of every coast and every bay 
That lies beneath the sun's alluring ray. 

In other fictions common to the ancient and modern world, this idea 

doubtedly had some connexion with its "que cieret," JEn. viii. 354, For the same 
name : reason, and not from his goatish form, we 

auti V ap' W/ tot<nv fiaXer aiytia Ov*. m ** be as f su , red ' the g d of Arcadia > * h ? 
ct^yi. K p. author of the Panic terror, was called 

HEPI MEN HANTH 4>OBOS ^ &n ' In eandic " r " mean * the 

FSTE^ANQTO 11 v 738 stormy sea ; and in Anglo-Saxon we have 

" eggian " to excite, " eg-stream " a tor- 

The verb aiffffu), from whence this term rent, " ege " fear, and " egesian" to scare. 

takes its derivation, meant to move ra- 92 Compare Muller's Saga-Bibliothek, 

pidly, to be violently agitated ; and hence p. 532-41, with Hyginus, ed. Staveren, 

atyiv, the tempestuous wind, and ai, the p. 189. 

appellation given to the stormy Capella, 93 Edda of Snorro, Daemesaga 37. 

or the star whose rising was productive of e4 Muller's Saga-Bibliothek, vol. ii. p. 

hurricanes. The aegis-bearing Jupiter of 459. and 592. 
Virgil is the cloud-compeller "nimbos- 


has been improved on, and applied to a vast variety of objects for con- 
veying the person from place to place. Herodotus, with his charac- 
teristic love of the marvellous, (tempered as this passion was by an un- 
rivalled perception of the truth,) found it impossible to pass unnoticed 
the fable of Abaris and his dart-' 5 . He has, however, only mentioned 
the common tradition of his day, that it transported the Hyperborean 
philosopher wherever he wished, and left to Jamblichus the further 
particulars of its history. From the Pythagorean romance of this 
writer we learn, that Abaris had procured it in the temple of the Hy- 
perborean Apollo ; and that in addition to the services it had rendered 
him in his several journeys " by flood and field," it had assisted him in 
performing lustrations, expelling pestilences, and allaying the fury of 
the winds 96 . The place of its deposit clearly shows it to have been the 
same miraculous weapon employed by the Delian god in destroying the 
Cyclops ; for another authority informs us, he buried this fatal dart in 
an Hyperborean mountain, and that when banished from Olympus, it 
was daily borne to him on the winds, laden with all the fruits of the 
season 97 . In this latter attribute it becomes identified with the horn 
of Amalthaea, and serves to explain the mystery overlooked by Jam- 
blichus, how Abaris, like another Epimenides, might devote his time 
to the service of the gods, and yet never be seen to eat or drink. In 
the traditions of Wales, this dart has been accommodated to the more 
stately fashions of later times ; and one of the thirteen marvellous pro- 
ductions of Britain is the car of Morgan, which carried the possessor 
to whatever district he desired. But here again we have only another 
form for the talaria of the Nymphs, with which Perseus winged his 
way to the residence of Medusa ; or the ring in the German tale, The 
King of the Golden Mountain, while in the popular story of Fortu- 
natus it assumes the humbler guise of a wishing-cap, and in the rela- 
tions of the Kurds, and the history of Tom Thumb, it has descended 
to the lowly shape of a pair of seven-leagued boots. Another object 
enumerated among the thirteen marvellous productions of Britain, is 
the veil or mask of Arthur, which had the power of rendering the 
wearer's person invisible, without interrupting his view of the things 
around him. In other fables of the same country, this property is also 
given to the ring of Eluned 9R , the Lunet of the old English romance 
of Ywaine and Gawaine : and in several German tales the hero is made 

93 Melpom. c. 36. a conclusion, that the Welsh and English 

96 Jamblichus, Vit. Pythag. c. 19. 28. romances follow a different tradition. In 

97 Hyginus, Astron. c. 15. the Heldenbuch this ring is given to Otnit 

98 Mr. Jones calls Eluned the lover of by his mother. Weber, p. 49. 
Owain ; which, if correct, would justify 

VOL. I. d 


to conceal himself from the " ken" of his companions by the assistance 
of an enchanted cloak. The romance of king Laurin, and the far- 
famed Nibelungen-lied, follow the general traditions of the North, 
which confine this mysterious attribute to a nebel-kappe, or fog-cap. 
But however varied the objects to which this quality has been assigned, 
we cannot fail to recognise the same common property which distin- 
guished the helm of Pluto, worn by Perseus in his combat with Me- 
dusa, or the equally notorious ring of Gyges, whose history has been 
recorded by Plato ". Without detaining the reader to trace the lyre 
of Hellenic fable through the hands of its several possessors, from Mer- 
cury to Amphion 

Dictus et Amphion, Thebanae conditor arcis, 
Saxa movere sono testudinis, et prece blanda 
Ducere quo vellet Hon. Ar. Poet. v. 393. 

we may proceed to remark, that the earliest notice of its occurrence in 
Northern fiction is to be found in the mythology of Finland. Waina- 
moinen, the supreme god of the Finnish Olympus, was the inventor of 
a stringed instrument called the kandele, which, resembling a kit in its 
construction, is still played as a guitar. " When this beneficent deity 
presented the result of his labours to mankind, no mortal hand pos- 
sessed the skill to awake its harmonies, till the god himself, touching 
the strings, and accompanying its notes with his voice, caused the 
birds in the air, the beasts of the field, and the fishes of the sea to listen 
attentively to the strain, and even Wainamoinen was moved to tears, 
which fell like pearls adown his robe 10 ." This account, which is lite- 
rally copied from Finnish tradition, will lose nothing by a comparison 
with the Grecian fable of Orpheus, and will recall to the reader's me- 
mory the celebrated gem representing Pan, the Grecian Wainamoinen, 
playing upon his pipe in the centre of the ecliptic. The fictions of our 

99 De Repub. iii. p. 359. Plato has lustration is given, cannot be more speci- 

most vexatiously dismissed a part of the fically referred to than by citing the Scholia 

history of this ring with a icae .... aXXa to Pluto published by Riihnken. 

Te St] a fivOoXoyovin, little thinking that 10 Mone's continuation of Creutzer, i. 

the modern antiquary would have been p. 54. But this tradition appears to have 

more beholden to him for information on found its way into Scotland. In a singu- 

this head than for all the subtleties of the lar composition, published by Sir Walter 

Cratylus, or the speculations of the Par- Scott, " An Interlude on the laying of a 

menides. Eucrates, in ' Lucian's Philo- Gaist," we find the following allusion to 

pseudes, unblushingly affirms that he had it: 
one of these rings in his possession, and 

had used it on a very trying occasion And sune mareit th e gaist the fle, 

The ancients explained the helm of Pluto And cround him kin S of Kandelie ; 

to be an impervious cloud surrounding And the y S at theme betwene 

the person of the wearer (such no doubt Orpheus king and Elpha quene. 

as is described in the Little Garden of Minstrelsy, vol. i. p. 164. 
Roses) : but the passage in which this il- 


own country, or more correctly speaking those of Scotland and Wales, 
have substituted the harp, as a more decidedly national instrument, for 
the lyre and kandele, and bestowed it upon two native musicians, 
Glaskyrion and Glenkindie, if indeed we are justified in separating 
these persons 101 . The former is the hero of a well-known ballad in 
Dr. Percy's Reliques, (vol. iii. p. 84-,) and is placed by Chaucer in the 
same rank of eminence with the son of Calliope : 

There herde I play on a harpe, 

That sowned both well and sharpe, 

Hym Orpheus full craftily ; 

And on this side fast by, 

Sate the harper Orion (Amphion ?)* 

And Eacides, Chirion, 

And other harpers many one, 

And the Briton Glaskyrion. House of Fame. 

The powers of Glenkindie's harp exceed all that has been said of its 
rival instruments : 

He 'd harpit a fish out o saut water, 

Or water out o' a stane, 
Or milk out o' a maiden's breast, 

That bairn had never nane 102 . 

From hence the transition to the horn of Oberon, " which if softly 
sounded would make every one dance who was not of an irreproachable 
character;" or the harp of Sigurd l03 , which caused inanimate objects 
to caper in the wildest confusion, was but an easy step. In popular 
story the same qualities have been conferred upon the fiddle of the 
German tale The Jew in the Bush, and the pipe of Jack in The mery 

101 j^| r> Jamieson seems to consider fame, for the spirited manner in which he 

Glenkindie a corruption of some local shook off the trammels of the Ritsonian 

name, which has been substituted for school, in his first publication, and vindi- 

Glaskyrion. There can be no doubt that cated the tasteful labours of Warton and 

the ballad published by him, as well as Dr. Percy. 

that in Dr. Percy's collection, refers to * The " harper Orion" is not meant 

the same personage ; but who this cele- by Chaucer for AmpMon, as Price strangely 

brated harper may have been, whether a conjectures, butdrion. R.G. 

native of Wales, Scotland, or any other 102 Jamieson's Scottish Ballads, vol. i. 

country, is not so clear. The same ra- p. 93. 

tionale will also apply to the name. It is 103 Herraud of Bosa's Saga, p. 49-51. 
to be regretted that a gentleman so emi- The pipes of Dorco and Daphnis, in the 
nently qualified as Mr. Jamieson to illus- pastoral romance of Longus, seem to have 
trate the popular antiquities of his native had much the same effect upon their re- 
country, should have abandoned a career spective flocks. See pp. 25. 111. 112. (ed. 
in which he has already attained so much Villoison.) The pipe of Pan, in the same 
distinction, and might have acquired still romance, equals any thing recorded of its 
greater. His name must ever be held in modern parallels, 
estimation by the friends of Warton's 



Geste of the Frere and the Boye, and have thus developed the oppo- 
site and contrasting elements contained in this as in every other fable, 
and without which no mythos seems to be complete. 

A still more favourite ornament of popular fiction is the highly- 
gifted object, of whatever form or name, which is to supply the fortu- 
nate owner with the gratification of some particular wish, or to furnish 
him with the golden means of satisfying every want. In British fable 
this property has been given to the dish or napkin of Rhydderch the 
Scholar, which, like the table, or table-cloth, introduced into a variety 
of German tales, no sooner received its master's commands, than it be- 
came covered with a sumptuous banquet. The counterpart of Rhyd- 
derch's dish is to be found in another British marvel, the horn of Bran, 
which spontaneously produced whatever liquor was called for : and a 
repetition of the same idea occurs in the goblet given by Oberon to 
Huon of Bourdeaux, which in the hands of a good man became filled 
with the most costly wine. In Fortunatus, and those tales which are 
either imitations of his adventures or copied from a common original, 
an inexhaustible purse is made to meet the demands of every occasion ; 
while in others, a bird, a tree, and even the human person, are made to 
generate in the same miraculous manner a daily provision of gold 104 . 
A modification of the same idea is also found in the basket of Gwyddno, 
which no sooner received a deposit of food for one, than the gift be- 
came multiplied into a supply for a hundred ; or in those stories, where 
the charity bestowed upon the houseless wanderer is rewarded by an 
endless stock of some requisite article of subsistence 105 . In Hellenic 
fable, we have already seen the dart of Apollo enabling Abaris to live 
without appearing to partake of sustenance ; and the narrative of Cle- 
ombrotus, also noticed before, seems to imply some similar resource on 
the part of his Eastern traveller. Another mysterious personage of 
early Grecian fable, and whose goetic practices, like those of Abaris, 
have secured for him a dubious fame, is Epimenides the Cretan. Of 
him we are also told that he was never known to eat, but that he allayed 
his hunger by occasionally tasting a precious edible bestowed upon 
him by the Nymphs ; and which he carefully kept preserved in an ox's 

104 Mr. Gorreshns observed, in speaking MM. Grimm's collection. The note on 
of Fortunatus, that the story of the goose this story contains references to the same 
which laid a golden egg is only a variation idea in the fictions of Greece, China, and 
of this prolific subject; and that the history India. It seems to have escaped these 
of the world contains little more than a learned German antiquaries, that a much 
kind of Argonautic expedition after the earlier notice of the same miraculous 
same golden fleece. For the other par- agency is to be found in the " widow's 
ticnlars referred to in the text, see Kinder- cruse" of the Old Testament, 1 Kings, 
und Haus-Marchen, No. 60. 122. 130. chap. xvii. 

105 See Der Arme und der Rciche, in 


hoof 106 . The popular creed of Attica, which seems to have delighted 
in investing the Theban Hercules with much the same absurdities that 
Northern fable has gathered round the person of Thor, had recourse 
to a similar invention as the only appropriate means of appeasing this 
divinity's ravenous appetites. It has accordingly conferred upon him 
the horn of AmalthaBa, the fruit of his victory over the river-god Ache- 
lous ; and of which the earliest tradition on record has given the popu- 
lar view of its powers, that it never failed to produce a constant store 
of food 107 . As such, it becomes identified with the ^Ethiopian table of 
the sun, mentioned by Herodotus 108 ; but in later fictions this idea has 
been refined into a horn, containing every possible delicacy of the ve- 
getable kingdom, overflowing with all earthly good, and conferring 
wealth and prosperity upon every one who might chance to possess 

This necessarily brings us to the history of the holy Graal 110 , or a 

106 See Diogenes Laertius, ed. Menage, 
vol. i. p. 73. 

W See Eustath. ad Dionys. Perieg. v. 
433. and Pherecydes in Apollod. Bibl. ii. 
7. 5. 

108 See Herod, ill. 18. Mela, c. 10. (qua> 
passim apposita sunt, affirmant innasci 
subinde divinitus) : and Soliuus, c. 30. 

109 See the Scholiast to Lucian's Rhet. 
Prsecept., and Eustathius, as before. The 
" Navigium" of the same writer contains 
some curious allusions to different points 
of popular belief, and which may be com- 
pared with the subjects treated of in the 
text. One of the parties wishes for a set 
of rings to endow him with the following 
qualities and advantages : a never-failing 
store of health ; a person invulnerable, in- 
visible, of irresistible charms, and having 
the concentrated strength of 10,000 men ; 
a power of flying through the air, of en- 
tering every dwelling-house strongly se- 
cured, and of casting a deep sleep upon 
whom he chose. Another person in the 
same piece asks for the wand of Mercury, 
which is to ensure him an inexhaustible 
supply of gold. For this wand of wealth 
and luck, see the Homeric Hymn to Mer- 
cury, v. 529 ; and' compare Epict. ap. Ar- 
rian. Diss. iii. 20. p. 435. ed. Schweigh., 
where it is said to convert every thing it 
touched into gold. This idea of its power 
found an early .circulation in the North; 
for one of the Glossaries published by 
Professor Nyerup, in his Symbol. Teut., 
and certainly not of a later date than the 
tenth century, translates caduceuma, uun- 
shiligarta. The Vilkina Saga mentions 
a ring which is to excite affection in the 
wearer towards the donor (Muller, p. 233.), 

and the love-stone of Helen is well known. 
Servius (ad ^En. iii. 279.) notices an oint- 
ment, prepared by Venus, which had si- 
milar powers. The Horny Siegfried be- 
comes invulnerable by bathing in the 
blood of a slaughtered dragon ; and Medea 
gave Jason an ointment producing the 
same effect for the space of four-and- 
twenty hours. (Apollod. Bibl. i. 9. 23.) 
Orvar Odd had a kirtel which was to pre- 
serve him against death by fire or water, 
hunger or the sword, so long as he never 
turned his back upon a foe. Muller, 533. 
110 The connexion between these sym- 
bols, a horn and a cup, will be apparent, 
on recollecting that the former was the 
most ancient species of drinking-vessel 
. both among Greeks and Barbarians. See 
Athen. xi. c. 51. Xenophon also notices 
the application of horns to the same pur- 
pose among the Thracians. Anab. vii. 2. 
23 : and it will be needless to offer any 
examples from the well-known customs 
of Western Europe. It will also be evi- 
dent why both these utensils should be 
chosen as the types of fecundity, abun- 
dance, and vivification, when we remem- 
ber that both were the receptacles of that 
element, which was either the symbol of 
life (w?7S TO vypov avpfioXov, Proclus in 
Timaeum, p. 318,) or the principal co- 
operating power in generation (<rwepyei 
yap yevecret . ... TO vdwp. Porphyrius 
de Antro Nymph, c. 17.). Hence the cor- 
nucopia was bestowed upon all those dei- 
ties who presided over fertility or human 
prosperity ; upon Achelous and the Nile, 
Bonus Eventus and Annona, from their 
share in fostering the fruits of the earth ; 
upon Tyche or Fortuna, the Agatho- 


sacred cup, which in the house of king Pecheur " appeared daily at the 
hour of repast, in the hands of a lady, who carried it three times round 
the table, which was immediately replenished with all the delicacies the 
guests could desire." The origin of this miraculous vessel, and the 
manner of its transmission to Europe, are thus related by Robert Bor- 
" The day on which the Saviour of the world suffered, death 


was destroyed, and our life restored : on that day there were few who 
believed on him ; but there was a knight named Joseph of Arimatheea, 
(a fine city in the land of Aromat). In this city Joseph was born, but 
had come to Jerusalem seven years before our Lord was crucified, and 
had embraced the Christian faith ; but did not dare to profess it for fear 
of the wicked Jews. He was full of wisdom, free from envy and pride, 
and charitable to the poor. This Joseph was at Jerusalem with his 

daemon, the tutelary Genii of towns or 
persons (such as the Roman emperors), 
the Lares, &c. from their beneficial aid in 
the direction of human affairs. A cor- 
nucopia of good fortune has already been 
noticed in the possession of the Northern 
Elves or Fays ; and one of the Nymphs 
in the celebrated relievo of Callimachus 
leads the way with this identical symbol. 
On the same principle, we meet with a 
Demeter Poteriophorus, and a Rhea Cra- 
terophorus, the Bonas Dese and Magnae 
Matres of the ancient world ; and the mo- 
dius of Serapis, the giver and the receiver, 
is clearly referable to the same source. 
(Serapidis capiti modius superpositus, quia 
indicet vitam mortalibus frugum largitate 
praeberi. Rufinus Hist. Eccles. ii. 23.) 
For further illustration of this copious 
subject, see Mr. Creuzer's Dionysus, sive 
Commentationes Academicae de Rerum 
Bacchicarum Orphicarumque Originibus 
et Causis; Heidelbergae 1808. 

111 Mr. Ritson has declared Robert 
Borron to be " a man of straw." But as 
he has offered no authority for such an 
assertion, the mere CLVTOS etya of this critic 
is not likely to have much weight beyond 
his school. The Vatican manuscript, No. 
1687, commences with these words, "Me- 
sir Robert de Boron, qui cheste estore 
translata de Latin en Romance, par le 
commandement de sainte eglise :" and no 
one can for a moment doubt the influence 
of the Romish priesthood, in the peculiar 
colouring given to the narrative. Mr. 
Ritson has also been a strenuous opponent 
of all such declarations as claim a Latin, 
Greek, or Arabic original for the subject- 
matter recorded. There may be occasional 
grounds for scepticism on this point ; but 
the sweeping incredulity which rejects 
every assertion of the kind, is equally 

prejudicial to a right knowledge of the 
subject, with the easy faith it affects to 
despise. We know the mutations inflicted 
upon the " Seven Wise Masters" prior to 
its receiving an English dress ; a variety 
of Italian tales and French fabliaux are of 
Arabic or Oriental origin ; Greek fable 
must have been the immediate source of 
Alexander's story ; the expedition of At- 
tila, and Amis and Amillion still exist in 
Latin verse ; and " Walther [of Aquitain's] 
and Hildegund's flight from Attila, was 
sung in Latin hexameters, on the model 
of Virgil and Lucan, by Eckhart, a priest 
of St. Galle (An. 973.)" The Anglo- 
Saxon fragment of Judith was not taken 
directly from the Apocryphal narrative. 
The variations indeed from this document 
are, generally speaking, of such a kind as 
any translator might be supposed to in- 
dulge in, without our having recourse to 
another original. But in one passage we 
meet with a very distinct mention of a 
musquito-net ; an article of furniture not 
specified in the Book of Judith, which 
could not have been in use in these North- 
ern realms, and of which the account must 
have travelled from the countries situated 
on the Mediterranean Sea. The original 
legend or romance must hence have been 
composed in a Southern dialect: and those 
who remember the alleged proficiency of 
the Anglo-Saxon monks in Greek, may 
be induced to fix their election on that 
language. The immediate source from 
whence the Scop derived his narrative, is 
of course beyond our inquiry ; but such a 
fact will teach us circumspection in form- 
ing any general theory as to the trans- 
mission of romantic fictions. Apollonius 
of Tyre, another Greek romance, also ex- 
ists in Anglo-Saxon prose. [Lately edited 
by Mr. Thorpe.] 


wife and son, who was also named Joseph. His father's family crossed 
the sea to that place which is now called England, but was then called 
Great Britain ; and crossed it ' sans aviron au pan de sa chemise 112 .' 
Joseph had been in the house where Jesus Christ took his last supper 
with his apostles ; he there found the plate off which the Son of God 
had eaten ; he possessed himself of it, carried it home, and made use of 
it to collect the blood which flowed from his side, and his other wounds ; 
and this plate is called the Saint Graal." This, however, is only the 
Breton or British account of the Saint Graal. The German romancers 
have followed a different version of its history, and derive their know- 
ledge of the subject, though indirectly, from an Oriental source. The 
Titurel and Parcifal of Wolfram von Eschenbach n3 are respectively 
devoted to the discovery and the quest of this miraculous vessel : and 
in both we find a similar account of its powers to that given in the nar- 
rative of Robert Borron. The circumstances, however, and the agents 
which have been connected with it, are wholly different from those 
contained in the rival version. The name of Arthur is more sparingly 
introduced than in the Western fiction ; and the theatre of its most im- 
portant events is laid in either Asia or Africa. The immediate source 
of Eschenbach's poem was a Provencal romance written by one Kyot 
or Guiot. Of this writer nothing further appears to be known, than 
the memorial of his labours preserved in the Parcifal of his German 
translator, and a notice of his strictures upon Chretien de Troyes 114 , 

112 This account has been extracted is referred to the late Mr. Edgar Taylor's 
from a version of Borron' s prologue, in " Lays of the Minnesingers or German 
the British Bibliographer, vol. i. The Troubadours of the twelfth and thirteenth 
translator has there rendered " sans avi- centuries ; illustrated by specimens of the 
ron, without oars." The original has cotemporary Lyric Poetry of Provence 
been given in the text from Roquefort's and other parts of Europe : with histo- 
Glossary : it contains no verbal obscurity, rical and critical notices, and engravings 
but the allusion is not intelligible to the from the MS. of Minnesingers in the 
writer of this note. King's library at Paris, and from other 

[The allusion is to a very common mi- sources. London, 1825." This elegant 

racle in Roman catholic legends. When volume, sent forth without the name of 

a saint wants to cross the water, he gene- the author, and under a title perhaps 

rally makes his cloak, or some similar not adapted for attracting notice, did not 

garment, serve as a ferry-boat ; thus get- meet with the success which it so well 

ting safely conveyed to his place of desti- merited. An- analysis of the story of 

nation without oar, sail, or rudder. The Parcifal has been given in the Biblio- 

Portuguese missionary Gouvea gravely theque Univ. de Geneve, for Sept. 1837, 

relates a like exploit of the Grand Lama, where the Saint Graal is said to have been 

whom he calls the bishop of Tibet. R.G.] " une pierre precieuse qui se detacha de 

113 These notices of Eschenbach's la couronne de Satan, lorsqu'il fut pre- 
poems have been collected from Mr. cip'te du ciel." R.T.] 

Gorres's preface to Lohengrin, an old Ger- m The language of Eschenbach is thus 

man romance, founded on the same fiction given by Mr. Gorres from the printed 

as the Chevelere Assigne. (See vol. ii. p. edition of the Parcifal : 
107. [For information respecting Wolfram Ob von Troys meister Christian 

von Eschenbach, and other German poets Diesem Maere hat Unrecht getan, 

of the same class in the middle ages, as Daz (des) mach wohl zurnen Kyot, 

well as those of Provence, the North of Der unz die rechten Maere enbot. 

France, Italy, and Catalonia, the reader i. c. Since Master Christian of Troyes has 


who, like most of the Norman troveurs, seems to have drawn his ma- 
terials from an Armorican source. From Wolfram's poem we gather, 
that Master Kyot obtained his first knowledge of the Graal from a ma- 
nuscript he discovered at Toledo. This volume was written in a heathen 
character, of which the troubadour was compelled to make himself mas- 
ter; and the baptismal rite enabled him to accomplish this arduous 
task without the aid of necromancy. The author of this mysterious 
record was a certain heathen astronomer, Flegetanis by name, who on 
the mother's side traced up his genealogy to king Solomon ; but having 
a Saracen father, he had adhered to his paternal faith, and worshiped 
a calf. Flegetanis was deeply versed in all the motions of the heavenly 
bodies ; and in the hallowed volume deposited at Toledo, he had care- 
fully inscribed the result of his nocturnal studies. But the book con- 
tained nothing more than the astronomer had really read most myste- 
riously depicted in the skies U5 . Even the name of the Graal was there 
emblazoned, together with the important fact, that a band of spirits had 
left it behind them upon earth, as they winged their way to their ce- 
lestial abodes. 

The acquisition of this knowledge stimulated Kyot to further in- 
quiries, and he proceeded to search in Latin books for the name of that 
people which had been considered worthy of guarding the Graal. He 
perused the chronicles of Brittany, France and Ireland, without much 
success ; but in the annals of Anjou he found the whole story recount- 
ed : he there read a complete history of Mazadan and his race, how 
Titurel brought the Graal to Amfortas, whose sister Herzelunde be- 
came the wife of Gamuret and the mother of Parcifal. This is clearly 
borrowed from the proeme of Kyot. Divested of its extraordinary 
colouring) we may receive it as amounting to this : that Kyot was in- 
debted to an Arabic original for some of his details, and that the rest 
were collected from European records of the same fiction. The truth 
of this is supported by the internal evidence. The scene for the most 
part is not only laid in the East, but a large proportion of the names 
are of decidedly Oriental origin. The Saracens are always spoken of 
with consideration ; Christian knights unhesitatingly enroll themselves 
under the banner of the Caliph ; no trace of religious animosities is to 
be found between the followers of the Crescent and the Cross ; and the 

done this tale an injustice, Kyot may well adoption of Greek traditions, there is the 

be angry, who has presented us with the most convincing proof in what is said of 

right narrative. the aspis Eccidsemon and the fish Galeotes. 

* In the work already referred to, The latter is intimately connected with 

Mr. Gb'rres has endeavoured to prove that the Northern fiction relative to the Ni- 

Flegetanis must have had a Greek original cors, so frequently mentioned in Beo- 

before him. Of -this, or at least of the wulf. 


Arabic appellations of the seven planets are thus distinctly enumerated : 
Z\val (Zuhael), Saturn; Musteri, Jupiter; Muret (Meryt), Mars; 
Samsi (Shems), the Sun; Alligasir (the brilliant), Venus; Kitr(Kedr, 
the obscure), Mercury ; Kamer (Ksemer), the Moon. Whether the 
name of Parcifal be taken from the Arabic Parse or Parseh Fal, the 
pure or the poor dummling, as conjectured by Mr. Gorres, must be 
left to the decision of the Oriental scholar: but the narrative already 
given affords a strong corroboration of his opinion, that Flegetanis is 
a corruption of Felek-daneh, an astronomer. 

The Breton and Proven9al fictions, as we have seen, unite in bring- 
ing this mysterious vessel from the East, a quarter of the globe whose 
earliest records present us with a marvellous cup, as extraordinary in 
its powers as any thing attributed to the Graal. Such a cup is well 
known to have occupied a conspicuous place among the traditions of 
the Jews, and from the Patriarch Joseph 116 , the chaste and provident 
minister of Pharaoh, to have descended to the great object of Hebrew 
veneration and glory, the illustrious king Solomon 117 . It will there- 
fore be no matter of surprise to those who remember the talismanic 
effect of a name in the general history of fiction, that a descendant of 
this distinguished sovereign should be found to write its history ; or 
that another Joseph should be made the instrument of conveying it to 
the kingdoms of Western Europe. In Persian fable, the same miracu- 
lous vessel has been bestowed upon the great Jemshid 118 , the pattern 

16 " Is not this it in which my lofd science, which has so beneficially unfold- 

drinketh ? And whereby indeed he di- ed the destinies of the West. A parallel 

vinetli 1 " Gen. xliv. 5. In Norden's time fable is found in Messenian story. When 

the custom of divining by a cup was still the Lacedaemonians stormed the fortress 

continued. " Je sais," dit Baram Cashef on mount Ira, Aristomenes, warned by 

de Derri au Juif, qui servoit d'entre- the Delphic oracle, secreted in the earth 

metteur aux voyageurs Europeens, some unknown article, which was to be a 

" quelles gens vous etes ; j'ai consulte ma future talisman of security to his unfortu- 

coupe, et j'y ai trouve, que vous etiez nate countrymen. After the battle of 

ceux, dont un de nos prophetes a dit, qu'il Leuctra, the Argive commander Epiteles 

viendroit des Francs travestis, qui feraient was directed in a dream to exhume this 

enfin venir un grand nombre d'autres mysterious deposit. It was then discover- 

Francs, qui feroient la conquete du pays, ed to be a brazen ewer, containing a roll 

et examineroienttout." Voyage d'Egypte of finely beaten tin, on which were in- 

et de Nubie, iii. 08. The lecanomanty scribed the mysteries of the great divini- 

of the Greeks is well known. ties (TO>V jueyctXwv Qewv . . . . r) TeXerrj. 

1J 7 The Clavicula Salomonis contains a Pans. iv. c. 20. 26.) 

singular variation of this fiction. The 118 " Giam en Perse signifie un coupe 
supernatural knowledge of Solomon was ou verre a boire, et un miroir. Les Ori- 
recorded in a volume, which Rehoboam entaux, qui fabriquent cette espece de 
inclosed in an ivory ewer, and deposited vases ou ustensiles de toutes sortes des 
in his father's tomb. On repairing the metaux aussi bien que de verre ou de cry- 
royal sepulchre, some wise men of Baby- stal, et en plusieurs figures differentes, 
Ion discovered the cup, and having ex- rnais qui approchent toutes de spherique, 
tracted the volume, an angel revealed the donnent aussi ce nom a un globe celeste, 
key to its mysterious writing to one Troes Us disent, que 1'ancien roi Gianschid, qui 
a Greek ; and hence the stream of occult . est Ic Salomon des Perses, et Alexandre 


of perfect kings, in whose reign the golden age was realized in Iran, 
and under whose mild and beneficent sway it became a land of undis- 
turbed felicity. On digging the foundations of Estakar (Persepolis), 
this favourite of Orrnuzd, and his legitimate representative upon earth, 
discovered the goblet of the Sun ; and hence the cause of all those 
blessings which attended his prosperous reign, and his unbounded 
knowledge of both terrestrial and celestial affairs. From the founder 
of the Persian monarchy it passed into the hands of Alexander the 
Great 110 , the hero of all later Oriental fiction ; and Ferdusi introduces 
the Macedonian conqueror addressing this sacred cup as " the ruling 
prince of the heavenly bodies, and as the auspicious emblem of his 
victorious career." By other Eastern poets it has been referred to as 
a symbol of the world, and the fecundating powers of Nature ; while 
others again have considered it as the source of all true divination and 
augury, of the mysterious arts of chemistry, and the genuine philoso- 
pher's stone 120 . A goblet of the Sun also forms a favourite object in 
Grecian fable 121 . On approaching the shores of the Western Ocean, 
this divinity was supposed to abandon his chariot, and, placing himself 
in a cup, to be borne through the centre of the earth. Having visited 
(according to Stesichorus) his mother, wife and children, he then pro- 
ceeded to the opposite point of the hemisphere, where another car 
awaited his arrival, with which he resumed his diurnal course. The 
Theban Hercules, the original type of all erratic champions, once ven- 
tured to attack the son of Hyperion ; but on being reproved for his 
temerity he withheld his hand, and received as a reward for his obe- 
dience the golden chalice of the god. This he now ascended ; and 

le Grand, avoient de ces coupes, globes, testate nostra." Shahnameh, as quoted 

ou miroirs, par le moyen desquels ils con- in Wilkins's Persian Chrestomathia, p. 

noissoient toutes les choses naturels, et 171, and Creuzer's Dionysus, p. 62. 
quelquefois meme les surnaturelles. La 12 In the article already referred to, 

coupe qui servoit a Joseph le Patriarche Herbelot says, The Persian poets make of 

pour deviner, et celle de Nestor dans Ho- this cup, " tantot le symbole de la nature 

mere, ou toute la nature etoit represented et du monde, tantot celui du vin, quelque- 

symboliquement, ont pu fournir aux Ori- fois celui de la divination et des augures, 

entaux le sujet de cette fiction. Un poete et enfin de la chymie, et de la pierre phi- 

Turc dit, Lorsque j'aurai ete eclaire des losophale." 

lumieres du ciel, mon ame deviendra le m See the fragments of this mythos, 

miroir du monde, dans lequel je decouvrai as variously related in Athenaeus, lib. xi. 

les secrets les plus caches." Herbelot p. 469-70. Mimnermus calls it the couch 

Biblioth. Orient, s. v. Giam. of the Sun, in allusion, as Athenaeus ob- 

119 " Quum Alexander pervenisset in serves, to the concave form of the cup. 

palatium suum, gyrantes exierunt Graeci This seems to have been a common me- 

locis suis, et laeti non viderunt noctem tonymy ; for in the passage already cited 

regis, (viderunt autem) quatuor pocula. from Pausanias, the brazen ewer depo- 

Gyrantibus ita locutus est (Alexander) : sited by Aristomenes is termed a brazen 

Salvi estote, laetamini hoc fausto omine bed by the old man who appeared to Epi- 

nostro, hie enim scyphus in pugna est teles in his dream, 
salus nostra, princeps siderum est in po- 


during a furious storm, excited for the purpose of putting his courage 
to the test, he traversed the ocean in it till he reached the western 
island of Erythsea 122 . The Platonists have dwelt at large upon Her- 
cules thus completing his labours in the West ; and, connecting this 
circumstance with the fancied position of the islands of the blest, have 
implied that it was here he overcame the vain illusions of a terrestrial 
life, and that henceforth he resided in the realms of truth and eternal 
light. With them, as in the school from whence their leading dogmas 
were derived the mysteries of Paganism a cup is the constant sym- 
bol of " vivific power ; " and this goblet of the Sun becomes the same 
type of regeneration and a return to a better life with the Graal of 
romantic fiction. Another version of the contest between Hercules 
and the Sun, or Apollo, transfers the scene of action to Delphi, and 
makes the object of strife between these heaven-born kinsmen the cele- 
brated tripod of the oracle. But in the symbolical language of Greece, 
a tripod and a goblet (crater) were synonymous terms 123 ; and the 
grammarians have informed us, that from this combat between the 
brothers, and their subsequent reconciliation, arose the prophetic 

122 From the Grecian terminology of 
their drinking-vessels, it is clear that a 
cup and a ship were originally correlative 
ideas; and the catalogue of Athenseus 
(lib. xi.) recites several words indiscri- 
minately implying either the one or the 
other. The twofold import of these terms 
will tend to explain an apparent deviation 
on the part of the Greeks and Romans, 
from the general type adopted by other 
nations in the form of their receptacles 
for the dead. The vase or urn of the 
former, the larnax of Egypt, the ship or 
boat of Western Europe, and the canoe 
of the American savage, are all connected 
with the same primitive idea expressed 
in the Welsh apophthegm : " Pawb a ddaw 
i'r Ddavar Long Every one will come 
into the ship of the earth." By whatever 
steps the Greek proceeded from liis simple 
bowl or boat, to all the luxury of form dis- 
played in his cinereal urns, the larnax, 
ship, or coffin of other nations was by no 
means a needful accommodation to the 
doctrine, which forbade the incremation 
of the dead. The ashes of Balldur (Dse- 
mesaga, c. 43.) were deposited in the ship 
Hringhorne, the body of Scyld (Beowulf, 
c. 1.) in a bark laden with arms and rai- 
ment, and committed to the guidance of 
the ocean. The varying language of the 
Iliad seems to countenance a similar di- 
stinction between Greek and Phrygian 
rites. The ashes of Patroclus are consign- 
ed to a golden cup (es xpv ffct l v 

xxiii. 253.) ; those of Hector to a golden 
ark or coffer (xpvcreiijv es\apvaica, xxiv. 
795. Compare Thucydides, ii. 34); forit 
is by no means clear, that the latter term 
ever implied an urn, however much such 
an interpretation might be justified by 
analogy. We are not, however, to infer, 
that either of these utensils was the em- 
blem of death or annihilation, or that this 
application to funereal purposes was in 
any way at variance with the Platonic 
doctrine of the text. For as the cup or 
vase was the symbol of vivific power, of 
generation, or an earthly existence, so 
also it was the type of regeneration, or a 
continued life in a happier and more ex- 
alted state. The savage is buried in his 
canoe, that he may be conveyed to the 
residence of departed souls ; the Greek 
was taught in the mysteries, that the Di- 
onysic vase would be a passport to the 
Elysian fields ; and the religion of Egypt 
enjoined, that every worshiper of Osiris 
should appear before his subterranean 
judge in the same kind of receptacle as 
that which had inclosed the mortal frame 
of this divinity. It only remains to ob- 
serve, that a boat of glass was the symbol 
of initiation into the Druidical mysteries. 
Davies's Celtic Mythology, p. 211. 

123 Kcu TO viKtjTrjpiov ev &iovvaov t 
rpnrovs .... dei de voeiv rpiTroda rov 
Aiovvffov, TOV Kparrtpa. Athenaeus ii. 


powers of Hercules. It will however be remembered, that the trans- 
lators of the Septuagint, in their version of the Hebrew text, have ren- 
dered the divining cup of Joseph by the Greek term " Condy." Of 
this vessel Athenseus has preserved the following account from Nico- 
machus. " The name of this cup is Persian. It originally meant the 
celestial lantern of Hermes, which in form resembled the world, and 
was at once the source of the divine marvels, and all the fruits that 
abound upon earth. On this account it is used in libations 124 ." The 
reader of Plato will have no difficulty in connecting this mundane cup 
with the first crater, in which the Demiurgus of the universe mixed 
the materials of his future creation ; in which the soul of the world 
was tempered to its due consistency, and from whence the souls that 
animate corporeal substances were dispersed among the stars 125 . The 
mention of this primary bowl gave rise among the Platonists to a se- 
cond or distributive cup of souls, which they bestowed upon Dionysus, 
as lord of the sensitive universe ; and hence the Nymphs, as ministrants 
and followers of this divinity, as the authorized inspectors of genera- 
tion, were said to be supplied with the same symbol. According to 
some authorities, these goblets are placed at opposite points of the 
firmament, and are respectively the types of generation, or the soul's 
descent into this realm of sensual pleasure, and of palingenesy, or the 
soul's return to those celestial regions from whence it sprang 126 . The 
former stands between the signs of Cancer and Leo, immediately before 
the human portal ; and a draught of the oblivious beverage it contains 
occasions forgetfulness of those pure delights in which the soul had 
previously lived, and excites a turbulent propensity towards a material 
and earthly existence 127 . The latter is placed at one extremity of the 

124 Athenseus, xi. 478. The present genuine record, appears to occupy the 
version is founded on the correction of same place in Celtic mythology. (See the 
Mr. Creuzer, who has at length rendered Hanes Taliessin in Mr. Davies's Celtic 
this passage intelligible by reading 'Eppov Myth.) Ceridwen, we are told, was " the 
ITTVOS, where both Casaubon and Schweig- goddess of various seeds," from whose 
haiiser have 'EPJWITTTTOS. The latter critic caldron was derived every thing sacred, 
has acknowledged the advantage of this pure and primitive. Gwyon the Little 
emendation. See Dionysus, &c. p. 26 et sits watching the caldron of inspiration, 
seq. Nicomachus has used the term ap- till three drops of the precious compound 
^)lied by Plato (Leg. i. 644.) to the whole alight on his finger. On tasting these, 
animal creation, TOJV Oewv TO. OavpctTa. every event of futurity becomes unfolded 

125 Timseus, 41, 42. to his view. This appears to be the " no- 

126 See Mr. Creuzer's Symbolik, &c. vum potum materialis alluvionis," the in- 
vol. iii. 410, &c. who has collected the toxicating draught which inspires the 
scattered notices of Proclus and Plotinus soul with an irresistible propensity to a 
on the subject. Compare also Porphyry's corporeal existence. " Hsec est autem 
interesting tract De Antro Nympharum, hyle, quae omne corpus mundi quod ubi- 
and Macrobius's Somnium Scipionis. cumque cernimus ideis impressa for- 

127 See Macrobius, S. Scip. i. c. 12. The mavit." (Macrob. i. 12.) It is this which 
caldron of Ceridwen, if founded on a protrudes the soul into Leo, and furnishes 


table of the gods (the milky way). It is held by Ganymede or Aqua- 
rius, the guardian of the southern fishes (king Pecheur?); and it is 
only by a favourable lot from this urn of destiny, that the soul is 
enabled to find a passage through the portal of the gods (Capricorn) 
to the circle of eternal felicity. 

The sacred vessel of modern fiction is no less distinguished for its 
attributes. The seat reserved for it at the Round Table, was called 
" the siege perilous," of which a hermit had declared, " There shall 
never none sit in that siege but one, but if he be destroyed," [and that 
one] "shall win the Sancgreall 128 ." On the day this seat was to re- 
ceive its appointed tenant, two inscriptions were found miraculously 
traced upon it : " Four hundred winters and four and fifty accom- 
plished after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ ought the siege to be 
fulfilled :" and, " This is the siege of Sir Galahad the good knight." 
The healing virtues of the Graal are exemplified on the wounded per- 
sons of Sir Bors and Sir Percival 120 , two of the knights destined to 

it with a prescience of its future career 
(" cum vero ad Leonem labendo perve- 
nerint, illic conditionis futurae auspicantur 
exordium." Ib.). Gwyon is now pursued 
by Ceridwen, and transforms himself suc- 
cessively into a hare, a fish, and a bird, 
while the goddess becomes a greyhound- 
bitch, an otter, and a sparrow-hawk. De- 
spairing of escape he assumes the form of 
a grain of wheat, and is swallowed by 
Ceridwen in the shape of a black high- 
crested hen. Ceridwen becomes pregnant, 
and at the expiration of nine months 
brings forth Taliessin, whom she exposes 
in a boat or coracle. In this we appear 
to have the soul's progression through the 
various elements which supply it with the 
vehicles necessary for incorporation. "Ter~ 
tius vero elementorum ordo, ita ad nos 
conversus, habeatur, ut terram ultimam 
facial, et caeteris in medium redactis in 
terram desinat, tarn ima quam summa 
postremitas : igitur sphaera Martis ignis 
habeatur, aer Jovis; Saturni aqua, terra 
vero Aplanes, in qua Elysios campos esse 
puris animis deputatos antiquitas nobis 
intelligendum reliquit : de his campis 
anima, cum in corpus emittitur, per tres 
elementorum ordines, trina morte, ad 
corpus usque descendit." (Ib.) The pur- 
suit of Ceridwen would then be a personi- 
fication of that necessity, by which souls 
are compelled to descend, in order that 
the economy of the universe may be su- 
stained. " For the sensitive life suffers 
from the external bodies of fire and air, 
earth and water falling upon it ; and con- 
sidering all the passions as mighty through 

the vileness of its life, is the cause of tu- 
mult to the soul." Procl. in Tim. as cited 
by Mr. T. Taylor, ii. p. 513. Another 
favourite figure of the same school is, that 
the soul is hurled like seed into the 
realms of generation. Ib. 510. The re- 
mainder of the tale is a piece of common 
mythology. Mr. Davies admits that the 
bardic lore was a compound of Pagan and 
Christian dogmas ; and it therefore be- 
comes a question, whether this Paganism 
was purely Druidical, or that syncretic 
system adopted by Pelagius from the 
Platonizing fathers of the Eastern church. 
The theological tenets of the triads (Wil- 
liams's Poems, vol. ii.) are obviously de- 
rived from this source. 

128 Morte Arthur, P. iii. c. 1. 

129 On this occasion Sir Percival " had 
a glimmering of that vessel, and of the 
maiden that bore it ; for he was perfect 
and clene." (M. Arth. c. 14.) And again : 
" I wot wele what it is. It is an holy 
vessel that is borne by a maiden, and 
thereon is a part of the holy blood of our 
blessed Saviour." Ib. There is no clue 
in the romance to the genealogy of this 
damsel. But Mr. Creuzer has shown that 
" a perfect and clean maiden" who bore 
a holy vessel, was a well-known character 
in Grecian story. Amymone, the blame- 
less daughter of Danaus, was exempt from 
the punishment inflicted upon her father's 
children, because she had resisted the soli- 
citations of a Satyr (sensual love). Hence 
she was permitted to draw the cooling re- 
viving draught of consolation and bliss 
in a perfect vase. Her sisters, who had 


accomplish the Quest. A cripple of ten years' suffering is restored to 
health by touching the table on which it is borne ; and a nameless 
knight of perfect and unspotted life is admitted to kiss it, and finds an 
instantaneous cure for his maladies. But the courage, prowess and 
chivalric accomplishments of Sir Launcelot are rendered unavailing in 
the Quest, by his guilty commerce with Queen Guenever. He is per- 
mitted to see its marvellous effects upon the knight already mentioned, 
and who, less worthy than himself in earthly endowments, is yet uncon- 
taminated by mortal sin ; and once indeed he is suffered to approach 
the chamber containing it. But a voice forbids his penetrating to the 
interior of the sanctuary : yet, having rashly disregarded the admoni- 
tion, he falls a victim to his fatal curiosity, and continues in an almost 
lifeless condition for four-and-thirty days. A similar punishment is 
inflicted upon king Evelake, who having " nighed so nigh" to the holy 
vessel " that our Lord was displeased with him," he became " blasted 
with excess of light," and remained " almost blind" the rest of his 
life 130 . The most solemn instance of its agency in the presence of a 
profane assembly, occurs on the day of Sir Galahad's assuming the 
siege perilous : " Then anon they heard cracking and crying of thun- 

yielded to temptation, who had resigned 
themselves to Desire, were doomed to 
spend their time in fruitless attempts to 
fill a bottomless or broken vase, or a per- 
forated sieve ; and to become the standing 
types of the uninitiated, or souls wallow- 
ing in the mire of material existence. 
(The story of the murder was unknown to 
Homer and Apollodorus, and was doubt- 
lessly a later fiction.) The Greeks also 
placed a vase upon the graves of the un- 
married persons, as a symbol of celibacy ; 
a practice that seems to illustrate the lan- 
guage of Joseph of Arimathy to Sir Per- 
cival : " And wotest thou wherefore [our 
Lord] hath sent me more than other ? for 
thou hast resembled me in two things ; 
one is, that thou hast seen the Sancgreall, 
and the other is that thou hast been a 
dene maiden as I am." c. 103. 

130 The punishment here inflicted upon 
Sir Lancelot and king Evelake, is founded 
upon an idea, which seems to have per- 
vaded the mythology of most nations, that 
the person of the Deity is too effulgent 
for mortal sight, and that any attempt at 
a direct inspection is sure to be punished 
with a loss of vision or the senses. Hence 
the stories of Tiresias and Actaeon, of 
Herse and Aglauros (Paus. i. 18.), of Eu- 
rypylus (Ib. vii. 19.), and Maneros (Plut. 
de Isid. et Osirid. c. 17.) ; and the explana- 
tion given to the disease called nympho- 

lepsy is clearly referable to the same opi- 
nion : " Vulgo autem memoriae proditum 
est, quicumque speciem quandam e fonte, 
id est, effigiem nymphae, viderint, furendi 
non fecisse finem, quos Graeci w\ityo\r}- 
TTTOVS, Latini lymphatos appellant." Fes- 
tus. Hence also the eyes were averted 
on meeting a hero or heroical demon ; 
and an Heroon was passed in silence. 
Schol. in Aristoph. Aves, 1490-3. The 
same opinion appears to have been cur- 
rent among the Germanic tribes who wor- 
shiped the goddess Hertha. Her annual 
circuit was made in a veiled car ; but the 
servants who washed the body of the god- 
dess on her return, and who consequently 
must have gazed upon her person, were re- 
ported to have been " swallowed up quick" 
by the earth. When Hercules demanded 
an epiphany of the god Ammon, we are told 
this divinity assumed a ram's vizor, a fic- 
tion which seems to be connected with the 
same common opinion. (Herod, ii. 42.) 
The numerous veiled statues seen by 
Pausanias in his tour through Greece, the 
veiled goblet carried in the Dionysic pro- 
cession at Alexandria (Athen. lib. v. 268.), 
and the general introduction of the Graal 
(wherein was " a part of the holy blood of 
our blessed Saviour") covered with sa- 
myte,may be considered as further illus- 


der, that hem thought the place should all to-rive. In the midst of the 
blast, entered a sunbeam, more clear by seven times than ever they saw 
day; and all they were alighted of the grace of the holy ghost 131 . 
Then there entered into the hall, the holy Grale covered with white 
samite ; but there was none that might see it, nor who bare it ; and 
then was all the hall full filled with good odours ; and every knight 
had such meat and drink as he best loved in this world ; and when the 
holy Grale had been borne through the hall, then the holy vessel de- 
parted suddenly, that they wist not where it became." (c. 35.) But 
these are the mere secular benefits in the power of the sacred cup to 
bestow. To those allowed to share in its spiritual advantages, who by 
a life of purity and blameless conduct had capacitated themselves for 
a more intimate communion with it, it became a cup of eternal life 
and salvation. On its first epiphany to Sir Galahad and his fellows, 

131 In the ancient world a cup or gob- 
let was not only considered as the most 
suitable kind of vessel for libations, but it 
was also regarded as an appropriate type 
of the Deity. This no doubt arose from 
the widely extended dogma, that the De- 
miurgus of the universe framed the world 
in his own image. The illustrations of 
this opinion, as exemplified in votive offer- 
ings, in the form of an egg, a globe, sphere, 
hemisphere, cup, dish, &c. would fill a 
volume ; and happily Mr. Creuzer by his 
" Dionysus" has rendered further proof 
on the subject unnecessary. In ^Egyp- 
tian processions a vase led the way as an 
image of Osiris (Plut. 496) ; a small urn 
was the effigy of Isis (Apuleius, Meta- 
morph. xi. p. 693) ; a bowl or goblet was 
borne on a chariot, as the emblem of Dio- 
nysus, in the festival described by Calixe- 
nus (Athenaeus, v. 268) ; and hence the 
long catalogue of craters, tripods, &c. so 
common in the furniture of ancient tem- 
ples. That the same symbol was acknow- 
ledged in other countries previously to 
any general intercourse with the Roman 
powers, is more than probable. Herodo- 
tus has stated of the Issedones, that they 
decorated the skulls of the departed with 
gold, reserving them as images (see Salmas. 
in Solin. p. 192.) of their ancestors, when 
they performed those annual rites which 
the Greeks called yeveaia. From this we 
may infer that the Issedones entertained 
the same notions of the dead that we find 
prevailing in almost every ancient and 
modern nation in a Pagan state ; and that 
they enrolled their deceased relatives 
among those domestic deities who by a 
general system of euphemy have been 
called Oeot xp'jo^ot, Dii Manes, Gutichen 

and Guid Neighbours. As the guardians 
of the family hearth, and the household 
gods of their descendants, the same class 
of spirits was also termed by the Greeks and 
Romans Oeoi KctToiKtdtoi, Lares, Trarpipoi 
Oeot, and Dii Penates. (See Salmasius 
Exercit. Plin. p. 46.) Now the images 
shown at Lavinium, as the identical sta- 
tues of the Penates brought to Italy by 
JEne&s, consisted of KijpvKia fftdrjpa cat 
Xa\Ka, icai Kepapov Tpwi'jcoy. (Dion. 
Hal. i. 67.) With the true or fictitious 
history of ^Eneas we are not concerned ; 
it is sufficient to know the form of those 
symbols which were acknowledged in Italy 
as suitable representations of the Penates. 
For an explanation of the caduceal figures 
we may refer to Servius : " Nullus enim 
locus sine Genio est, qui per anguem ple- 
rumque ostenditur." The Trojan bowl 
and Issedonian skull will illustrate each 
other. Livy has also said, " Galli Boii 
caput ducis (Postumii) praecisum ovantes 
templo intulere : purgato inde capite, ut 
mos iis est, calvum auro caelavere ; idque 
sacrum vas iis erat, quo solennibus liba- 
rent ; poculumque idem sacerdoti esse ac 
templi antistitibus." It will be remem- 
bered, that according to the Edda, the skull 
of Ymir was converted into the canopy of 
heaven (Daemesaga). Something is said 
on this subject at page xxvi. below, which, 
though written without the passages above 
cited being in the Editor's recollection, he 
by no means wishes to retract, so far as 
the moderns are concerned. Through in- 
advertency the authorities for that note 
have been omitted, viz. Bartholin for the 
facts, and the " Transactions of the Scan- 
dinavian Society," page 323. 1813. for the 


the great mystery of the Romish church is visibly demonstrated before 
them. The transubstantiation of the sacred wafer is effected in their 
presence, palpably and sensibly; the hallowed " bread become flesh" 
is deposited in the cup ; and the Redeemer of the world emerges from 
it to administer to his " knights servants and true children, which 
[were] come out of deadly life into spiritual life, the high meat .which 
[they] had so much desired." Still they " did not see that which 
they most desired to see, so openly as they were to behold it in the city 
of Sarras in the spiritual place." Here Sir Galahad's vision of the 
transcendent attributes of the perfected ; his participation in 
its hallowed contents is consummated to the full extent of his wishes ; 
he has now obtained the only meed for which this life is worth en- 
during a certainty of passing to a better : his earthly travails close, 
" his soul departs unto Christ, and a great multitude of angels" is seen 
to " bear it up to heaven. Also his two fellows saw come from heaven 
a hand, but they saw not the body; and then it came right to the vessel 

and took it and so bare it up to heaven. Sithence was there 

never no man so hardy for to say that he had seen the Sangreall." 

In the Arabic version the holy vessel is delivered by an angel to 
Titurel, at whose birth another minister of heaven attended, and fore- 
told the infant hero's future glory, by declaring that he was destined 
to wear the crown of Paradise. By him a temple is built for its pre- 
servation upon Montsalvaez, " a sacred mountain, which stands in Sal- 
vatierra 132 , a district of Arragon, and lying adjacent to the valley of 
Roncevalles and upon the high road from France to Compostella." 
The materials for this structure are of the most costly and imperishable 
description : they are all produced in their appropriate forms and con- 
nection by the miraculous power of the Graal ; and the outline of the 
building is unexpectedly discovered upon a rock of onyx, which the 
day before had been cleansed of the weeds and herbage that encum- 
bered it. The access to the sanctuary is rendered invisible to all, ex- 
cept the chosen few, by an impervious forest of cedar, cypress and 
ebony surrounding it. By the. daily contemplation of the Graal, 
Titurel's life is prolonged to " more than five hundred years ;" just as 
the glorious career of Jemshid was extended to nearly seven centuries 
from a similar cause ; and he only sinks to the sleep of death, from 
omitting to visit it during the space of ten days. In Lohengrin, Mont- 

132 This Montsalvaez in Salvatierra is in would account for the castle of Luces 

all probability the Salisberi of the Norman Sieur de Gast being " pres de Salisberi," 

Romancers ; the Mons salutis (Sawles- or adjoining the sanctuary in which the 

byrig?) of the Christian world. This Graal was preserved. 


salvaez assumes the place of the isle of Avalon in British romance l33 ; 
and forms the fabled place of retreat of Arthur and his followers. It 
is here that the British monarch awaits the hour of his re-appearance 
upon earth 134 ; but far from remaining insensible to those chivalric 
duties which rendered his court an asylum for injured beauty and 
distressed sovereigns, he still holds a communication with the world, 
and occasionally dispatches a faithful champion to grant assistance in 
cases of momentous need l36 . Here also the Graal maintains the sanc- 

133 The retreat of Arthur to the isle of 
Avalon forms an exact parallel to what 
Hesiod has sung of the heroes who fell in 
the Trojan war, &c. (Op. et Dies, 140.) 
The skolion of Callistratus relative to 
Harmodius and Aristogeiton shows how 
late this beautiful fiction continued to be 
a favourite with the Athenians. In the 
Islands of the Blest we hear of Semele 
being married to Rhadamanthus, and 
Helen to Achilles. The offspring of this 
latter union was a winged boy, Eupho- 
rion, who was destroyed by Jupiter in the 
island of Melos. (Ptolem. Hephsest. c. 4.) 
Mr. Owen has said of " Arthur the son of 
Uthyr Bendragon, that he was a mytholo- 
gical and probably allegorical personage, 
and the Arcturus or Great Bear" of the 
celestial sphere. It is to be regretted 
that the Welsh antiquaries have told us 
so little of this mystic Arthur. The Fins, 
one of the oldest European tribes, and 
whose destinies have been even more 
evil-starred than those of the Celts, retain 
the following article of their ancient faith : 
When the soul is permitted to ascend 
the shoulders of Ursa Major, it passes into 
the highest heaven, and the last stage of 
felicity. (Mone, ubi supra, 62.) Some- 
thing of this kind is absolutely necessary 
to make many parts of the Morte Arthur 
intelligible ; for that in this we have to 
do with the mythological Arthur, would 
be clear even to those who had no know- 
ledge of an historical British prince. Not 
that the compilers of these fictions were at 
all aware of the ground they were tread- 
ing, any more than Homer, when he de- 
scribed the contest between Vulcan and 
the Scamander, believed himself " to be 
philosophizing Orphically," to speak with 
Philostratus. (Heroic, p. 100. ed. Boisson- 
nade.) The writers of romance, like the 
great Maeonian (si licet componere, Sic.), 
appear to have poured forth in song the 
sacred lore of an earlier period, but which 
having already received a secular or hi- 
storical cast, was uttered as such by them 
with the most unsuspecting good faith. 

131 The doctrine of the rnetempsycho- 

VOL. I. 

sis, which formed so conspicuous an arti- 
cle of the Celtic creed, would be sufficient 
to account for the Breton tradition rela- 
tive to Arthur's re-appearance upon earth. 
A similar belief was entertained respect- 
ing Ogier le Danois, whose identity with 
Helgi, a hero of Ssemund's Edda,has been 
already noticed. At the close of the song 
" Helgi and Svava," it is stated, that these 
persons were born again ; and at the end 
of the second song concerning Helgi Hun- 
dings-bane, we have, " It was believed in 
the olden time that men might be bora 
again. Helgi and SSgrunr are said to 
have been regenerated. He was then 
called Helgi Haddingia-skate ; but she, 
Kara Halfdens daughter." The compiler 
of this collection does not fail to add, that 
in -his time this opinion was regarded as 
an old-wives' tale. The French romances 
however have perpetuated the tradition. 

135 The author of Lohengrin makes 
Eschenbach assert, that his information 
respecting Arthur's " residence in the 
mountain, the manner in which the Bri- 
tish monarch and his hundred followers 
were provided with food, raiment, horses, 
and armour, and the names of the cham- 
pions whom he had dispatched to aid the 
Christian world," was obtained from St. 
Brandan. Lohengrin or the " Chevelere 
Assigne " was one of these heroes. In 
this Arthur assumes the duty allotted to 
Proserpine, who, according to Pindar, 
" having cleansed the soul of its impu- 
rities, re-dispatches it to the upper sun, 
where it becomes distinguished for its 
wisdom or its power, and in after-time is 
ranked among the heroes of public vene- 
ration." See Plato's Meno 81. and Her- 
mann's disposition of this fragment in the 
3rd volume of Heyne's Pindar. In Ger- 
many this tradition respecting the Graal 
became localized : Four miles from Dann, 
St. Barbara's hill is seen to rise conically 
from the centre of a plain. By many in- 
fatuated Germans this hill is called the 
Graal, who also believe that it contains 
numerous living persons, whose lives will 
be prolonged till the day of judgement, 


tity of its character ; and becomes at once the register of human 
grievances and necessities, and the interpreter of the will of Heaven 
as to the best mode of redressing them 13(5 . But even here its tran- 
scendent purity requires a similar degree of unblemished worth in 
those who consult its dictates: the attendant knights in Arthur's 
train are too corrupt and sensual to approach the hallowed fane ; 
and the infant children of Perceval and Lancelot, and the daughter 
of the courteous Gawaine are alone considered fit to step within the 
sacred shrine. Perhaps this would be the place to connect these 
scattered fragments of general tradition, and to offer a few remarks 
upon the import of a symbol which has thus found its way into the 
popular creed of so many distant nations. But a history of romantic 
fiction forms no part of the present attempt, nor an exposition of those 
esoteric doctrines, which, taught in the heathen temple and perpetuated 
in the early stages of the Romish church, have descended to the mul- 
titude in a less impressive but more attractive guise. 

There is, however, one point upon which it may be necessary to 
make a more explicit avowal, lest the general tendency of the preceding 
remarks should be construed into an acquiescence in opinions wholly 
disclaimed. Though the marvels of popular fiction, both in the an- 
cient and modern world, have thus been referred to the same common 
origin, it is by no means intended to affirm that the elements of ficti- 
tious narrative in Greek and Roman literature are nowhere to be found 
embodied in the productions of the middle age 137 . Such an assertion 
would be at variance with the most limited experience of the subject, 
and might be refuted by a simple reference to the German tales of 
MM. Grimm. In the story of the " Serpent-leaf," the principal inci- 
dent accords with the account of Glaucus and Polyidus, as related by 
Apollodorus 138 ; the cranes of Ibycus figure under another form in the 

and who pass their time there in a round of seems more probable than that the corn- 
continued revelry and pleasure. Theod- posers of romance were well acquainted 
eric a Niem. lib. ii. de Schismat. c. 20. with the ancient Greek and Latin poets." 
as cited by Praetorius, i. 395. (Met. Rom. iii. p. 324.) But here his own 

136 The distress of Elsam von Brabant favourite figure in dialectic inight cer- 

is made known to Arthur by her ringing tainly have been retorted upon him : Is it 

a bell, a subject upon which there is no so nominated in the bond ? 
space to dilate. But the reader will not i Compare Grimm's Kinder- und 

fail to remember that a brazen vessel (or Haus-Marchen, No. 16, with Apollod. 

bell) is sounded when Simaetha invokes Biblioth. iii. 3. 1. There is perhaps no 

Hecate (Theocritus, ii. 36.), and that a fable that has obtained a more extensive 

similar rite was observed at Athens when circulation than this. Another version of 

the Hierophant invoked the same Goddess the story attributes the cure of Glaucus to 

as Core or Proserpine. See Apollodorus, .ZEsculapius (Hyg. Astron. 14.) : and ac- 

as cited by the Scholiast to Theocritus, cording to Xanthus, as cited by Pliny 

and compare the preceding note, (Hist. Nat. lib. xxv. c. 5.), it formed a 

1S ? Mr. Ritson has said, " Nothing piece of Lydian history. A recent num- 


tale of the Jew and the Skinker 13 ' ; and the slipper of Cinderella finds 
a parallel, though somewhat sobered, in the history of the celebrated 
Rhodope 140 . In another story of the same collection we meet with the 
fabled punishment of Regulus, inflicted on the persons of two cul- 
prits 141 ; Ovid's Baucis and Philemon may be said to have furnished 
the basis of the Poor and the Rich Man l42 ; the Gaudief and his Master 
contains the history of the Thessalian Erisichthon 143 ; the Boeotian 
Sphinx exerts her agency in a variety of forms 144 ; and the descent of 
Rhampsinitus, and his diceing with Demeter, is shadowed forth in a 
series of narratives 145 . Another of Ovid's fables, the history of Picus 
and Circe, is in strict analogy with a considerable portion of the " Two 
Brothers ;" other incidents may be said to have been borrowed from 
the account of the same enchantress in the Odyssey : the annual sacri- 
fice of a virgin to the destructive dragon forms a pendant to the story 
in Pausanias concerning the dark demon of Temessa ; and the test of 
the hero's success, the production of the dragon's tongue, which also 

ber of the Quarterly Review (No. 58.) has 
cited the following illustration of it from 
Roger Bacon's Opus Majus : " At Paris 
there was lately a sage, who sought out 
the serpent's nest, and selecting one of the 
reptiles, he cut it into small pieces, leaving 
only as much undissected membrane as 
was sufficient to prevent the fragments 
from falling asunder. The dying serpent 
crawled as well as it could until it found 
a leaf, whose touch immediately united 
the severed body ; and the sage, thus 
guided by the "creature whom he had 
mangled, was taught to gather a plant of 
inestimable virtue." While this sheet 
was passing through the press, a similar 
story was related to the Editor, of an old 
crone practising leech-craft in Glamorgan- 
shire at the present day. The ancient 
name of this valuable herb was balis or 
ballis. (Comp. Pliny with the Etymol. 
Magnum.) In the Lai d'Eliduc, two 
weasels are substituted for the serpents of 
the ancient fiction. 

"9 Grimm, No. 115. Cic. Tusc. 4. c. 

140 Grimm, No. 21. JElian. Var. Hist, 
lib. xiii. c. 32. 

141 Grimm, No. 13. Appian in Liby- 
cis. In the note to the " Three Manni- 
kins in the Wood," it is stated from the 
Great Chronicle of Holland, that this 
punishment was inflicted on Gerhard van 
Velzen, for the murder of Count Florence 
V. of Holland (1296). After being rolled 
in the cask for three days, he was asked 
how he felt, when he intrepidly replied : 

Ich ben noch dezelve man 
Die Graaf Floris zyn leven nam. 
I am still the self-same man who took 
away the life of Count Florence! The 
same punishment is also mentioned in the 
Swedish popular ballads published by 
Geyer and Afzelius, i. No. 3 ; the Danish 
Kiempe Viser, No. 165; in Perrault's 
Fairy Tale " Les Fees," and the Penta- 
merone, iii. 10. (Grimm.) [See also Mr. 
Edgar Taylor's German Popular Stories, 
and the Notes.] 

142 Grimm, No. 87. Ovid. Met. viii. 
679, where the presence of a divinity is 
manifested by a miracle running through 
the fictions of every country: 

Interea, quoties haustum cratera, repleri 
Sponte sua, per seque vident succrescere 


Attoniti, &c. 
Compare note 105. p. (52) above. 

143 Grimm, No. 68, Ovid. Met. viii. 
738. and .Elian. Var. Hist. i. 28. 

144 The popular view of this subject in 
the ancient world is given by Pausanias, 
ix. c. 26. who represents the Sphinx as 
a natural daughter of Laius, entrusted 
with a secret delivered to Cadmus by the 
oracle at Delphi. The rightful heir to 
the throne was in possession of the solu- 
tion to this mystery ; the illegitimate pre- 
tenders were detected by their ignorance 
of it, and suffered the penalty due to their 

145 Grimm, No. 82, and the note con- 
taining the several variations of the tale. 
Herodotus ii. 122. 


occurs in the romances of Wolf-dietrich and Tristram, is to be met with 
in the local history of Megara 146 . The mysterious cave of "Gaffer 
Death" receives its chief importance from its resemblance to a similar 
scene in the vision of Timarchus 147 ; and the most interesting tale in 
the whole collection whether we speak with reference to its contents, 
or the admirable style of the narrative the Machandel Boom 148 is 

146 Grimm, No. 60. Ovid. Met. xiv. 
327. Odyss. x. 230-335. Comp. Ovid. xiv. 
270. Pausanias vi. c. 6. (See note 57. p. 
(33) above.) Weber's Northern Antiqui- 
ties, p. 123. Sir Tristram, fytte 2. st. 37. 
The scholiast to Apollonius Rhodius re- 
lates, on the authority of the Megarica, 
that Alcathous the son of Pelops, having 
slain Chrysippus, fled from Megara, and 
settled in some other town. The Mega- 
raean territory being afterwards ravaged 
by a lion, persons were dispatched to de- 
stroy it ; but Alcathous, meeting the mon- 
ster, slew it, and cut out the tongue, with 
which he returned to Megara. The party 
sent to perform the exploit also returned, 
averring the success of their enterprise ; 
when Alcathous advanced, and produced 
the lion's tongue, to the confusion of his 
adversaries. Schol. in Apoll. Rhod. lib. 
i. v. 517. 

14 ? Grimm, No. 44. Gaffer Death... 
now led the physician into a subterranean 
cavern, containing an endless number of 
many thousand thousand lighted candles. 
Some were long, others half-burnt, and 
others again almost out. Every instant 
some of these candles became extinguished, 
and others lighted anew ; and the flame was 
seen to move from one part of the cave to 
another. Look here ! (said Death to his 
companion,) these are the vital sparks of 
human existence." In Plutarch's tract 
" De Genio Socratis," Timarchus is made 
to address his mysterious guide thus : 
" But I see nothing except a number of 
stars shooting about the chasm, some of 
which are plunging into it, and others 
shining brilliantly and rising out of it." 
These are said to be the intellectual por- 
tions of the soul (Nous), or demoniacal 
intelligences, and the ascending stars souls 
upon their return from earth ; the others, 
souls descending into life. c. 22. In this 
we receive the key to the attribute be- 
stowed upon the ancient divinities who 
presided over generation and childbirth, 
such as Lucina, Artemis-Phosphorus, &c. 
and hence also the analogy between the 
stories of Meleager and Norna-Gest may 
be explained from a common point of po- 
pular faith. 

148 This extraordinary tale will be 
found in the second volume of Mr. Edgar 

Taylor's German Popular Stories, now on 
the eve of publication. To this the reader 
is referred, who will feel grateful that no 
garbled abstract of it is here attempted. 
The points of coincidence may be thus 
briefly stated. In the Cretan fable, the 
destruction of Zagreus is attributed to the 
jealousy of his step-mother Juno ; and the 
Titans (those telluric powers who were 
created to avenge their mother's connubial 
wrongs) are the instruments of her cruelty. 
The infant god is allured to an inner 
chamber, by a present of toys and fruit 
(among these an apple}, and is forthwith 
murdered. The dismembered body is 
now placed in a kettle, for the repast of 
his destroyers; but the vapour ascending 
to heaven, the deed is detected, and the 
perpetrators struck dead by the lightning 
of Jove. Apollo collects the bones of his 
deceased brother, and buries them at Del- 
phi, where the palingenesy of Bacchus 
was celebrated periodically by the Hosii 
and Thyades. (Compare Clemens Alex. 
Protrept. p. 15. ed. Potter; Nonnus Dio- 
nys. vi. 174, &c. and Plutarch de Isid. et 
Osirid. c. 35. et De Esu Carnium, i. c. vii.) 
But this again is only another version of 
the Egyptian mythos relative to Osiris, 
which will supply us wrth the chest, the 
tree, the sisterly affection, and perhaps the 
bird (though the last may be explained 
on other grounds). (Plut. de Isid. &c. c. 
13. et seqq.) Mr. Grimm wishes to con- 
sider the " Machandel-Boom" the ju- 
niper-tree ; and not the " Mandel," or al- 
mond-tree. It will be remembered, that 
the latter was believed by the ancient 
world to possess very important properties. 
The fruit of one species, the Amygdala, 
impregnated the daughter of the river 
Sangarius with the Phrygian Attys (Pans, 
vii. 17) ; and another, the Persea, was the 
sacred plant of Isis, so conspicuous on 
Egyptian monuments. (For this inter- 
pretation of the Persea, see S. de Sacy's 
Abd-allatif Relation de 1'Egypte, p. 47- 
72, and the Christian and Mahommedan 
fictions there cited.) This story of dress- 
ing and eating a child is historically re- 
lated of Atreus, Tantalus, Procne, Harpa- 
lice (Hyginus ed. Staveren, 206), and 
Astyages (Herod, i. 1 19) ; and is obviously 
a piece of traditional scandal borrowed 


but a popular view of the same mythos upon which the Platonists have 
expended so much commentary the history of the Cretan Bacchus 
or Zagreus. In Sweden, the story of Hero and Leander has become 
localized, and forms the subject of an interesting national ballad ; the 
fate of Midas is to be found incorporated as an undoubted point of 
Irish history 149 ; and the treasury of Rhampsinitus has passed from 
Egypt to Greece, and from Mycenae to Venice 160 . The youthful hi- 
story of Theseus bears a strong resemblance to many parts of Sir De- 
gore; the white and black sails, the emblems'of his success or failure, 
are attached to the history of Tristram and fair Ysoude ; the ball of 
silk given him by Ariadne has passed into the hands of the Russian 
witch Jaga-Baba ; and the heroic feat which was to establish the proof 
of his descent, has been inserted in the lives of Arthur, and the North- 
ern Sigurdr 131 . The talisman of Meleager "Althaea's firebrand" 
has been conferred upon the aged Norna-Gest, a follower of king 
Olaf )52 ; the artifice of Jack the Giant-killer, in throwing a stone among 
his enemies, occurs in the histories of Cadmus and Jason 153 ; and the 
perilous labour of Alcmene is circumstantially related in the Scottish 
ballad of Willie's Lady li4 . Among the marvellous tales with which 
the traveller Pytheas chose to enliven the narrative of his voyage, at 

from ancient mythology. The Platonistic ions than the Grecian hero ; for on the day 

exposition of it will be found in Mr. Tay- king Olaf recommended him to try the 

lor's tract upon the Bacchic Mysteries experiment of lighting the candle, he was 

(Pamphleteer, No. 15.). 300 years old. Ib. 

"9 Keating's Hist, of Ireland, as cited 153 Schol. in Apoll. Rhod. Hi. 1178. 

by MM. Grimm, iii. 391. 154 Minstrelsy of the Border, vol. ii. 

150 Compare Herod, ii. c. 121. Schol. Sir Walter Scott has observed, that the 
in Aristoph. Nub. 508. and the notes to billie-blind, who detects the mother's 
Childe Harold, canto iv. charm in this ballad, was a species of do- 

151 Compare Plutarch's Life of Theseus mestic spirit or Brownie. The Thebans 
with Sir Degore, as published in the " Se- appear to have held a similar opinion re- 
lect Pieces of Early Popular Poetry ; " lative to Galinthias, whom they considered 
Scott's Sir Tristram, p. 199; Prince Wla- a ministrant of Hecate, and to whom the 
dimir and his Round Table, a collection first sacrifice was performed during the 
of early Russian Heroic Songs, Leipzig festival of Hercules. (Anton. Lib. c. 29.) 
1819, 8vo, as cited by Mone 130; the They were hence reputed to worship a 
Morte Arthur, P. I. c. 4 ; and the Vol- weasel (jlian. Hist. Nat. xii. v.), an ani- 
sunga Saga, Miiller, p. 31. mal of an exceedingly ominous character 

152 Apollod. Biblioth. i. c. 8. 1. " At in the ancient world. (Theophrastus Cha- 
length Gest told them the reason of his ract. 17.) In the reputed house of Amphi- 
being called Norna-Gest. Three Volar tryon, Pausanias (ix. 11.) saw a relievo 
cast his nativity ; the two first spaced representing the Sorceresses (Pharmaci- 
every thing that was good, but the last des) sent by Juno to obstruct Alcmene's 
became displeased, and said the child labour. According to him (and he ga- 
should not live longer than the candle thered the account at Thebes), they were 
lasted which was then burning. Upon this defeated by Historis, a daughter of Ti- 
the two Volar seized the light, and bade resias ; which again confirms the analogy 
his mother preserve it, saying, it was not between the ancient and modern fiction, 
to be lighted till the day of his death." for Tiresias and his family move in The- 
Norna-Gest's Saga, Miiller 113. Gest ban story with all the importance of tute- 
was more fortunate in his family connex- lary divinities. 


the risk of sacrificing his character for discernment and veracity, the 
following has been preserved by the Scholiast to Apollonius Rhodius : 
" Vulcan appears to have taken up his abode in the islands of Lipara 
and Strongyle,... ...and it was formerly said, that whoever chose to carry 

there a piece of unwrought iron, and at the same time deposited the 
value of the labour, might on the following morning come and have a 
sword, or whatever else he wished, for it li5 ." This fiction has a double 
claim upon our attention, both from the manner in which it became 
localized at a very early period in England, and from the interest it 
has recently excited by its reception into one of those unrivalled pro- 
ductions* which have given a new character to the literature of the 
day. In a letter written by Francis Wise to Dr. Mead, " concerning 
some antiquities in Berkshire, particularly the White Horse," an ac- 
count is given of a remarkable pile of stones, to which the following 
notice is attached : " All the account which the country people are able 
to give of it is : At this place lived formerly an invisible smith ; and if 
a traveller's horse had left a shoe upon the road, he had no more to do 
than to bring the horse to this place with a piece of money, and 
leaving both there for some little time, he might come again, and find 
the money gone, but the horse new shoed. The stones standing upon 
the Rudgeway, as it is called, I suppose gave occasion to the whole 
being called Wayland-Smith, which is the name it was always known 
by to the country-people." The reader will have no difficulty in de- 
tecting here the previous recital of Pytheas, or in recognising in this 
simple tradition the germ of a more recent fiction, as it has been un- 
folded in the novel of Kenilworth *. But he may not be equally aware, 
that the personage whose abilities it has so unostentatiously transmitted, 
is a very important character in early Northern poetry ; and that the 
fame of " Wayland-Smith," though less widely extended than it now 
promises to become, was once the theme of general admiration, from 
the banks of the Bosphorus 156 to the Atlantic and Frozen oceans. 

155 Schol. in Apoll. Rhod. iv. 761. Belle-SauvageonLudgateHill,(chap.xiii.) 
* [Alfred the Great speaks of Welond &c. &c. So mean a profanation of an an- 
" the wise smith " as a renowned person- cient poetic tradition is far from being de- 
age of the remotest antiquity ; and, para- serving of praise, but must be considered 
phrasing the reflections of Boethius on the as one of those bookmaking expedients re- 
transient nature of human glory, exclaims, sorted to for the supply of the incessant 
"Where are now the bones of Welond? or demands of a lucrative and recklessly 
who knows the place where they were de- prolific manufacture. R. T.] 
posited ? " Sir Walter Scott, however, has 156 In the Vilkina-Saga he is called 
no scruple in producing him as a matter- Velent : but the author adds, he bore the 
of-fact parish blacksmith and mountebank name of Volundr among the Varingar. 
of Berkshire, in the reign of Queen Eliza- These Bapayyoi were mercenaries in the 
beth, uttering much common-place gossip, service of the Greek emperors. See Anna 
shopping in Fleet Street, putting up at the Cornn., Codrin., &c. and Ducange v. Ba- 


The first historical song in the Edda of Saemund if it be lawful to give 
this name to a composition containing such a strong admixture of 
mythological matter is devoted to the fortunes of a celebrated smith 
called Volundr*. The Vilkina-Saga, a production of the fourteenth 
century, enters more fully into his history ; and he is spoken of by va- 
rious writers between the ninth and fourteenth centuries 157 as the fa- 
bricator of every curious weapon, or unusual piece of art. In the out- 
line of his story there is a very strong analogy f with the events that 
shine so marvellously in the life of Daedalus. The flight of Volundr 
from his native country, like that of the Athenian artist, is attributed 
to an act of violence upon the persons of two rival craftsmen. His first 
reception at the court of Nidung is attended by every demonstration 
of kindness and attention; but an accidental offence occasions the 
seizure and mutilation of his person, and he is compelled to labour in- 
cessantly in the duties of the forge for his tyrannical host. The double 
cruelties inflicted on him, in the loss of liberty and his bodily injuries, 
inspire him with sentiments of revenge : the infant sons of his perse- 
cutor fall the victims of his artifice ; their sister is seduced and publicly 
disgraced; and the triumphant artist, having attached wings to his 
person, takes his way through the air to seek a more friendly em- 
ployer 158 . It is not a little remarkable, that the only term in the Ice- 
landic language to designate a labyrinth is Volundar-hus a Weland's 
house 159 . 

rangii. In the eleventh century, the to auctore, (but who was living in 1159,) 
Northern portion of this body-guard p. 252. See also the romance of Horn- 
amounted to 300, according to the Flatos child and Maiden Riminild, in Ritson's 
Codex, c. 507-8, which makes a distinc- Met. Rom. vol. iii. p. 295. 
tion between them and the French and f [See Mr. T. Keightley's " Tales and 
Flemings in the Imperial service. Miiller, Popular Fictions, their Resemblance and 
149. Transmission from Country to Country," 

* [Conybeare's Illustrations, p. 236.] 1834, p. 271. He scarcely admits the 

ls ? Some of these have been already analogy.] 

noticed. (See Alfred's Boethius, and the 158 These circumstances are taken from 

poem of Beowulf, and note y p. Ixii. below.) the recital given in the Vilkina-Saga. 

The following may be added from M tiller's (Miiller, 154.) The Eddaic song makes 

Saga-Bibliothek : " Et nisi duratis Vue- no mention of Volundr's flight to the court 

landia fabrica giris obstaret . . . ." from a of Nithuthur (Nidung), nor of his killing 

Latin poem of the ninth century, entitled his instructors the Dwarfs : a deed of mere 

" De prima Expeditione Attilae regis Hun- self-defence according to the Vilkina-Saga, 

norum in Gallia, ac de rebus gestis Walt- since, his rapid improvement having ex- 

harii Aquitanorum principis." Lipsiae cited their envy, they were devising apian 

1780. In Labbe's Bibliotheca MSS. Nova, for destroying him. 

torn, ii., the following notice occurs : 159 The name of Volundr became a ge- 

" Gillermus Sector Ferri hoc nomen sor- neral name in the North for any distin- 

titus est, quia cum Normannis confligens guished artist, whether working in stone 

venire solito conflictu deluctans, ense corto or iron. The same may be said of Dse- 

vel scorto durissimo, quern Valandus faber dalus in Greece (datda\\eiv, daiSaXci), 

condiderat, per medium corpus loricatum whose labours are found to run through a 

secavit una percussione." Historia Ponti- succession of ages ; and who, in addition 

ficum et Comitum Engolismensium incer- to his numerous inventions, constructed 


The resemblances here detailed are obviously too intimate to have 
been the result of accident, or a common development of circumstances 
possessing some general affinity. The majority, on investigation, will 
be found to have been derived, however indirectly, from sources of 
classical antiquity ; and their existence in this dismembered state forci- 
bly illustrates a remark of Mr. Campbell's, which is equally distinguished 
for its truth and beauty : " that fiction travels on still lighter wings 
[than science], and scatters the seeds of her wild flowers imperceptibly 
over the world, till they surprise us by springing up with similarity, in 
regions the most remotely divided 160 ." But while these resemblances 
tend to establish the fact, that popular fiction is in its nature traditive 161 , 
they necessarily direct our attention to another important question 
the degree of antiquity to be ascribed to the great national fables rela- 
tive to Arthur, Theoderic, and Charlemagne. It will be almost need- 
less to remark, that the admixture of genuine occurrences in all these 
romances is so disproportionate to the fictitious materials by which it 
is surrounded, that without the influence of particular names, and the 
locality given to the action, we should never connect the events de- 
tailed with personages of authentic history. The deeds ascribed to 
Charlemagne, by a mere change of scene, become as " germane" to the 
life of the most illustrious of the Gothic kings as any of the circum- 
stances advanced in his own veracious Vilkina-Saga. A similar trans- 
ference might be effected, in the " most antient and famous history of 
Prince Arthur," without violating the probability or disturbing the ac- 
curacy of the account : and the same process might be applied, with 
equal success, to almost every other romance laying claim to an histori- 
cal character. But though all parties may be agreed, that the sub- 
structure of these recitals is essentially fabulous, the great point to be 
investigated, is the sera when each fable first obtained a circulation. 
Are the fictitious memorials thus united to the names of these several 
European kings the sole invention of an age posterior to their respect- 
ive reigns ? or the accumulated traditions of a long succession of cen- 

such enormous works in Egypt, Sicily and To this may be added the doctrine of an 
Crete. In the former country he received ancient aphorism cited by Demosthenes 
divine honours (Diod. Sic. i. p. 109.) ; the (De falsa legatione) : 

mythologic character of Volundr is clear - *,> -\ \ 

^ . f 3>nun o ov TIS irainrav airo\\VTai. riv- 

from the Edda; and Praetonus speaks of n r 

o i > i 117 t. XT' TlVCt TTOAAOt 

Spirits Volands and Water- ruxen as syn- . , y Q 

Aaoi d>nuiw0r Oeos vv TIS eon Kai 
onymous terms. If we allow the daugh- Y ' 

ter of Nidung to take the place of Pasi- 

phae, the Athenian proverb will be fully 61 Suppose we on things traditive divide, 

substantiated : ev TTCLVTI fivOy KO.I TO Aat- . And both appeal to Scripture to de- 

<$a\ov fjLvaos. Suidas, i. p. 752. cide. DRYDEN. 
160 Essay on English Poetry, p. 30. 


turies, both antecedent and subsequent to the period in which the events 
are placed? It cannot be expected that such an extensive subject will 
receive the discussion it merits, on the present occasion ; but as some 
of the preceding remarks are founded on an assumption that the latter 
position is demonstrable, the general question may be illustrated by 
one example out of many, of the mode in which this amalgamation has 
been effected in Northern Romance. 

The life of Theoderic of Berne, the mirror of German chivalry, has 
been connected in later romance with the adventures of Siegfried, the 
hero of the Nibelungen Lied*. The authentic history of this latter 
prince is wholly beyond the hope of recovery ; but under the more de- 
cidedly Northern name of Sigurdr, he has been allowed the same di- 
stinction in Icelandic fiction, that attends him in the fables of Germany. 
In Saemund's Edda his achievements are recorded in a series of simple 
narrative songs ; and the Volsunga-Saga is wholly devoted to the for- 
tunes of his family. The ground-work of Siegfried's story is indis- 
putably the fatal treasure, originally the property of Andvar the dwarf; 
but which, extorted from him by violence, as a ransom for three cap- 
tive deities, receives a doom from the injured Duergr, which involves 
every after-possessor in the same inevitable ruin as the necklace of 
Eriphyle in Grecian story. In the Nibelungen Lied the previous hi- 
story of the " hoard" is wholly overlooked ; and its acquisition by Sieg- 
fried, notwithstanding the important part assigned it in the subsequent 
stages of the recital, forms only a subsidiary argument. The Edda 
dwells with a spirit of eager yet mournful pleasure upon the successive 
acts of iniquity by which the threat of Andvar is substantiated ; and 
the iron mask of destiny obtrudes itself at every step, with the same 
appalling rigour as in the tragic theatre of Greece. But in either nar- 
rative, the hero of the tale, whether Sigurdr or Siegfried, is spoken of 
as the son of Sigmund, and to him are attributed the destruction of the 
dragon, and the consequent spoliation of the treasure. A document 
nearer home, but which has evidently wandered to these shores from 
the North, the Anglo-Saxon poem of Beowulf, gives a different version 
of the story. In this interesting record of early Danish fable, the dis- 
comfiture of Grendel gives occasion for the introduction of a Scop, or 
bard, who, like Demodocus in the Odyssey, entertains the warriors at 
Hrothgar's table with an account of deeds of earlier adventure. In 
compliment to Beowulf, he selects the most distinguished event in 
Northern history ; and the subject of his song is the slaughter of 

* [See the late Mr. E. Taylor's Lays of the Minnesingers, above referred to.] 


the dragon, and the seizure of the treasure by Sigmund the Wael- 
sing 162 . We are not to consider this as an accidental variation, either 
intentionally or ignorantly supplied by the Christian translator or re- 
novator of the poem ; the celebrity of Sigmund is supported by the 
mention of his name in other Northern documents. In the Hyndlu- 
Lioth he is connected with Hermod 163 as a favourite of the Gods, 
upon whom Odin had bestowed a sword as a mark of his approval. 
And in the celebrated Drapr upon the death of Eric Blodoxe, who 
was slain in a descent upon the English coast during the tenth cen- 
tury, and which is perhaps the oldest Icelandic poem having reference 
to a contemporary historical event, Sigmund is summoned by Odin, as 
the most distinguished member of Valhalla, to advance and receive the 
Norwegian king. But independently of this collateral testimony, the 
song of the Anglo-Saxon scop contains internal evidence of its fidelity 
to the genuine tradition. The Edda and the Volsunga-Saga make 
Sigmund the son of a king Volsungr, whom they place at the head of 
the genealogic line ; and consider as the founder of the Volsunga dy- 
nasty. It is however certain, that this Volsungr is a mere fictitious 
personage ; since, on every principle of analogy, the Volsunga race 
must have derived their family appellative from an ancestor of the 
name of Vols, just as the Skioldings obtained theirs from Skiold, the 
Skilfings from Skilf, and the Hildings from Hildr. Now this is the 
genealogy observed by the Anglo-Saxon scop ; who first speaks gene- 
rally of the Waelsing race, and then specifically of Sigmund the off- 
spring of Waels l65 . From this it will be clear that Sigurdr or Siegfried 

162 The text of Thorkelin reads, Dedit Hermodo 

Thaet he framsige Galeam et loricam, 

Munde secgan &c. p. 68. At Sigmundo 

Ensem accipere (ferre, habere). 
The manuscript, Thig . g dearly the sigmund of the Anglo _ 

Thset he fram Sigemunde Saxon scop, who immediately passes to 

Secgan hyrde. the history of Hermod. The same may 

[Ed. Kemble, 1. 1743.] be said of the Sigmund mentioned in 

Mr. Grundtvig, a Danish poet, has the K . in * J. ric>8 dra P r > wh . ere he is conjoined 

merit of first making known the connection J 1 * J son Smfioti. (Compare Sm- 

between this song and the Edda, by a fiotla-lok in Saemund s Edda.) 

communication inserted in the Kjoben- 16 Waelsinges gewm-Waelses eafera, 

havns Skilderi." (Miiller, p. 381.) It was f d ' . Th eh ?' P' 68 A ' 6 ?' Of the Ic f 

detected in the first sheets sent to this landic Volundr, the Anglo-Saxons made 

country as a specimen of the forthcoming We . land > f th . e y h J ve mad * W ls . f V . ols - 

publication. [A correct- edition of the Any objection that might be raised to 

text of Beowulf was published in 1833 by the antl q ult Y of the Edda from this cir- 

Mr. J. M. Kemble, to whose Prefaces and ^umstance would only apply to the Intro- 

Appendix the reader is referred. R. T.] d " ctl(m to the son ^' whlch "confessedly 

or a more recent date. It will hence be 

63 Gaf han Hermpthi clear, that at the time when these poems 

Hialm ac bryniu, were collected, the fiction was of such an- 

En Sigmundi tiquity that it had become corrupted at the 

Sverth at thiggia. vol. i. p. 315. source. The authenticity of the Edda 


in the great event of his history has been made to assume the place of 
his father Sigmund, upon the same arbitrary principle that the Theban 
Hercules has gathered round his name the achievements of so many 
earlier heroes. Nor is this perhaps the only mutation to which the 
Northern fiction has been subjected. The catastrophe of the fable, as 
we have already seen, is wholly dependent upon the treasure of And- 
var ; and the founder of the Wselsing dynasty bears a name, which in 
the Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon language is nearly synonymous with 
wealth or riches 166 . 

certainly does not stand in need of the 
additional support here given ; but it 
must be gratifying to those who have 
favoured the integrity of these Songs, to 
find their opinions confirmed by such con- 
clusive and unimpeachable testimony. 
Mr. Miiller, in the interesting volume so 
repeatedly referred to in various parts of 
this preface, has satisfactorily accounted 
for the silence of Saxo Grammaticus upon 
this branch of fabulous Northern history. 
In his day the fiction had become lo- 
calized on the Rhine, and was received by 
him as a portion of authentic German 
story. (Saga-Bibliothek, ii. p. 401.) 

166 Upon a future occasion the Editor 
will offer his reasons for believing that the 
present song has been transposed from 
its proper place, to make way for an epi- 
sode upon the exploits of Hengest, in- 
serted at p. 82. ed. Thorkelin. The sub- 
ject of this latter document is evidently 
taken from a larger poem, of which a 
fragment has been published by Hickes ; 
and is known under the name of the 
Battle of Finsburh. In Beowulf the actors 
are Fin, Hnaef, Hengest, Guthlaf and 
Oslaf; in the fragment the same names 
occur, with the substitution of Ordlaf for 
Oslaf. The scene in either piece is Finnes - 
ham, or Finnes-burh, the residence of the 
before-mentioned Fin. That in these we 
have an allusion to the founder of the 
kingdom of Kent, and not to a purely fa- 
bulous personage of the same name, will 
be rendered probable, on recollecting that 
the events recorded contain no admixture 
of marvellous matter. Both productions 
are clearly of the same historical class, 
and written in the same sober spirit, with 
the fragment of Brythnoth ; for the 
Eotena-cyn of Beowulf, over whom Fin 
is said to reign, is a general term in 
Northern poetry for any hostile nation not 
of the Teutonic stock. From hence it is 
desired to make two deductions : First, 
that the events alluded to are anterior to 
the close of the fifth century; and second- 
ly, that the introduction of this episode 
into the present poem was not likely to be 

made after the year 723, when Egbert 
expelled the last monarch of Kent and 
dissolved the heptarchy. For this last 
deduction more explicit reasons will be 
given as before stated on another occa- 
sion. It only remains to observe, that 
the Hengest mentioned in Beowulf was a 
native of Friesland," and to ask whether 
Fin was a Celt ? and can the Gaelic anti- 
quaries connect him with any Erse sove- 
reign bearing this name ? 

[The Battle of Finsburh has been print- 
ed with Dr. Grundtvig's and Mr. Kemble's 
" Beowulf," and in Conybeare's Illustra- 
tions, p. 173. in which work there is also 
a translation, by the Editor, the Rev. 
W. D. Conybeare, of The Death of Byrht- 
noth, p. xc. the original text of which is 
given in Mr. Thorpe's Analecta, under 
the title of The Battle of Maldon. With 
regard to the age of Beowulf, Mr. Kemble 
says, " the poem was probably brought 
hither by some of those Anglo-Saxons 
who, in A.D. 495, accompanied Cerdic 
and Cyneric." Pref. p. xix. Some par- 
ticulars relative to the mythic personages 
whose names occur in these Saxon poems, 
were, subsequently to the publication of 
the last edition, communicated by Mr. 
Price, through me, to the Rev. W. D. Co- 
nybeare, and were given in the Note, p. 
281. appended to the " Illustrations," on 
its publication in 1826, together with some 
remarks of my own, suggested by a com- 
parison which I had made of the Genealo- 
gies in the Saxon Chronicle with those of 
Nennius, both in Gale's edition, and in 
that which had recently been published 
from the Vatican MS. by my venerable 
friend the Rev. W. Gunn. 

I there ventured to suggest in the note, 
p. 286. that the Beaw of the Saxon 
Chronicle, An. 854. might be Beowulf: 
" 9. Beaw or Eeowius: [for Beowulf? 
So Cutha and Cuthwulf are indiffer- 
ently read in the Genealogies : compare 
An. 495. and 854.]" 

My conjecture has now .been satisfacto- 
rily confirmed in the Postscript to the Pre- 
face of Mr. Kemble's Beowulf, vol. ii. con- 


The great length to which the preceding remarks have been carried * 
will make it necessary to be less excursive in considering the second of 
Mr. Ritson's objections ; and fortunately the previous labours of Mr. 
Ellis 167 have rendered any discussion of the subject almost superfluous. 
The fidelity of Geoffrey of Monmouth in the execution of his labours 
at least his scrupulous exactness in preparing the readers mind for 
any important deviations from, or suppression of, his original has 
been so satisfactorily established, that we might cite his example as an 
instance of good faith that would have done honour to a more critical 
age, and shining conspicuously amid the general laxity of his own 168 . 
The licences he has allowed himself, in the shape of amplification, are 
to all appearance nothing more than a common rhetorical exercise, in- 
herited by the middle ages from the best days of antiquity : and the 
letters and speeches introduced, admitting them to be of his own com- 
position, are the necessary appendage of the school in which he was 
disciplined. To charge him with " imposture and forgery " for pur- 
suing such a course, is as just as it would be to doubt the general pro- 
bity of Livy, for a similar practice in the Roman History: and to ques- 
tion his veracity, because the subject of his translation is a record of 
incredible events, is a degree of hypercriticism which could only have 

taining a very learned and able investiga- emigration." Hist, of England, vol. i. p. 

tion relative to these Genealogies, and the 448. It is difficult to understand why 

heroes of the northern mythology. Geoffrey was more or less a " mere " 

I am led, however, to dissent from Mr. translator for these omissions, or how such 

Kemble's conjecture, p. vii. that in Bo- a practice could make him an original 

erinus the r is substituted by a mistake of writer. The editor has to apologize for 

the copyer (in the time of Hen. VI.) for not having referred to this interesting 

the Saxon w ; as I find in a corresponding work of Mr. Turner's in the early portion 

genealogy in Resenius's edition of the of Warton's History : but an. absence from 

Edda, that the next person to Skiold is his native country at the period of its pub- 

Biaff or Bjar ; and in that of Goransson, lication, and for some years afterwards, 

Biaf, or Baur ; which shows that the r in caused him to be unacquainted with its 

Boerinus is founded upon an ancient syn- contents. It will be needless to add, how 

onym. " Biaf, er ver kaullum Baur : " much he might have been benefited per- 

" Biaf, nobis Bear." Edda, Gorans, p. 6. sonally by an earlier knowledge of its ex- 

R. TAYLOR.] istence, and the trouble he might have 

* See note appended to this Preface, been spared in travelling over much of the 

p. (93). same ground Mr. Turner has now so 

16 ? Metrical Romances, vol. i. Introd. agreeably shortened to every future in- 

168 Mr. Sharon Turner (in a recent quirer. While thus reading his confession, 
work) has persevered in his objections to the editor will also express his regret at 
Geoffrey's fidelity : " Several of Jeffrey's being unacquainted (from the same cause) 
interspersed observations imply, that he with a most valuable Essay on the Popu- 
has rather made a book of his own, than lar Mythology of the Middle Ages con- 
merely translated an author. If he merely tained in the Quarterly Review for Janu- 
translated, why should he decline to han- ary 1820, and to which his attention was 
die particular points of the history be- directed by a general reference in a fo- 
cause Gildas had already told them, or reign publication, Grimm's Kinder-March- 
told them better? He assumes here a en. [Since repeated in the English trans- 
right of shaping his work as he pleased, as lation, entitled "German Popular Sto- 
he does also when he declares his inten- ries."] 
tion of relating elsewhere the Armorican 


been resorted to by a mind eager to escape conviction. But in this, as 
in almost everything else which was exposed to the reprobation of Mr. 
Ritson, there was a secondary design in the back-ground, of more im- 
portance than the original proposition ; and an unqualified denial of 
Geoffrey's Armorican original was an indispensable step towards ad- 
vancing a favourite theory of his own. The substance of this theory 
may be given in the language of its author : " That the English ac- 
quired the art of romance-writing from the French seems clear and 
certain, as most of the specimens of that art in the former language are 
palpable and manifest translations of those in the other : and this too 
may serve to account for the origin of romance in Italy, Spain, Ger- 
many and Scandinavia. But the French romances are too ancient to 
be indebted for their existence to more barbarous nations 169 ." With 
the truth or fallacy of this hypothesis we are not at present concerned. 
But it will be obvious that its success must at any time have depended 
upon the degree of credit assigned to the repeated declarations of Geof- 
frey, and the claims possessed by Armorica to an original property in the 
British Chronicle 170 . A sweeping contradiction therefore, without the 
shadow of proof as if proof in such a case would have been an insult 
to the reader's understanding was to destroy every belief in the 
former; while a constant call for proof, a most vehement " iteration" 
for the original documents, and an unmeaning speculation upon the 
physical inabilities of the whole Armorican nation, from the rugged- 
ness of their language, to cultivate poetry, was to silence every preten- 
sion of the latter. A more candid spirit of criticism has at length con- 
ceded, that a general charge of imposture unsupported by testimony, 

169 Metrical Romances, i. p. c. It may Norman minstrels could thus descend to 
be as well to subjoin the succeeding para- poach upon Armorican ground, they might 
graph in Mr. Ritson's dissertation, for the also have gleaned their intelligence rela- 
benefit of those who can reconcile the con- tive to Bevis of Hampton and Guy of War- 
tradiction it contains, to the doctrine wick on an English soil. But this again 
avowed in the passage cited above : " It would destroy the sneer against the " hi- 
is, therefor, a vain and futile endeavour storian of English Poetry," who has call- 
to seek for the origin of romance: in all ed these redoubted champions " English 
agees and countrys, where literature has heroes." " Wis " is a genuine Saxon 
been cultivateed, and genius and taste name occurring in the Chronicle, and 
have inspire'd, whether in India, Persia, Beo-wis might be formed on the analogy 
Greece, Italy or France, the early- of Beo-wulf. That the Norman minstrels, 
est product of that cultivation, and that like their brothers of Germany and Scan- 
genius and taste, has been poetry and ro- dinavia, should have sought in every di- 
mance, with reciprocal obligations, per- rection for subjects of romantic adventure, 
haps, between one country and another. will be considered no disparagement to 
The Arabians, the Persians, the Turks, their genius, except by that gentle band 
and, in short, almost every nation in the of critics who believe that the dramatist 
globe abound in romancees of their own who borrows his plot is inferior to the 
invention." Ibid. ci. play-wright who invents one. 

tf There are those who will say, If the 


or even a showing of some adequate motive for the concealment of 
the truth, is not to overrule the repeated affirmations of a writer no 
ways interested in maintaining a false plea ; and that, however much 
the tortuous propensities of one man's mind might incline him to prefer 
the crooked policy of fraud to the more simple path of plain-dealing, 
the contagion of such a disease was not likely to extend itself to a long 
list of authorities, all of whom must have been injured rather than 
benefited by the confession, who could have had no common motives 
with the first propounder of the deceit, and who were divided both by 
time and situation from any connexion with him, and generally speak- 
ing from any intercourse with each other. The concurrent testimony 
of the French romancers is now admitted to have proved the existence 
of a large body of fiction relative to Arthur in the province of Brit- 
tany : and while they confirm the assertions of Geoffrey in this single 
particular, it is equally clear they have neither echoed his language, 
nor borrowed his materials. Every further investigation of the subject 
only tends to support the opinion pronounced by Mr.Douce ; that "the 
tales of Arthur and his knights, which have appeared in so many forms, 
and under the various titles of the St. Graal, Tristan de Leonnois, Lan- 
celot du Lac, &c. were not immediately borrowed from the work of 
Geoffrey of Monmouth, but from his Armoric originals 171 . 

The great evil with which this long-contested question appears to 
be threatened at the present day, is an extreme equally dangerous 
with the incredulity of Mr. Ritson a disposition to receive as authen- 
tic history, under a slightly fabulous colouring, every incident recorded 
in the British Chronicle. An allegorical interpretation is now inflicted 
upon all the marvellous circumstances ; a forced construction imposed 
upon the less glaring deviations from probability ; and the usual sub- 
terfuge of baffled research, erroneous readings, and etymological 
sophistry, is made to reduce every stubborn and intractable text to 
something like the consistency required. It might have been expected 
that the notorious failures of Dionysius and Plutarch in Roman history 
would have prevented the repetition of an error, which neither learning 
nor ingenuity can render palatable; and that the havoc and deadly ruin 
effected by these ancient writers (in other respects so valuable) in one 
of the most beautiful and interesting monuments of traditional story, 
would have acted as a sufficient corrective on all future aspirants. 
The favourers of this system might at least have been instructed by 
the philosophic example of Livy if it be lawful to ascribe to philo- 

171 See below, p. xiii. 


sophy a line of conduct which perhaps was prompted by a powerful 
sense of poetic beauty, that traditional record can only gain in the 
hands of the -future historian, by one attractive aid, the grandeur and 
lofty graces of that incomparable style in which the first decade is 
written ; and that the best duty towards antiquity, and the most agree- 
able one towards posterity, is to transmit the narrative received as an 
unsophisticated tradition, in all the plenitude of its marvels, and the 
awful dignity of its supernatural agency. For however largely we may 
concede that real events have supplied the substance of any traditive 
story, yet the amount of absolute facts, and the manner of those facts, 
the period of their occurrence, the names of the agents, and the locality 
given to the scene are all combined upon principles so wholly beyond 
our knowledge, that it becomes impossible to fix with certainty upon 
any single point better authenticated than its fellow. Probability in 
such decisions will often prove the most fallacious guide we can follow ; 
for, independently of the acknowledged historical axiom, that " le vrai 
n'est pas toujours le vraisemblable," innumerable instances might be 
adduced, where tradition has had recourse to this very probability, to 
confer a plausible sanction upon her most fictitious and romantic inci- 
dents 172 . It will be a much more useful labour, wherever it can be 
effected, to trace the progress of this traditional story in the country 
where it has become located, by a reference to those natural or arti- 
ficial monuments which are the unvarying sources of fictitious events l73 ; 

172 The story of the doves at Dodona told Solon, " You Greeks are always chil, 
and the origin of the oracle there, is too dren " (Plato, Tim. p. 22.) ; and that the 
well known to require a repetition. There Greeks, who believed every tale these art- 
is a connexion and propriety in the solu- ful foreigners chose to impose upon them, 
tion given by Herodotus, which on a first were proverbial for their admiration of the 
perusal carries conviction to the reader's wondrous out of their own country. (Vide 
mind. Yet nothing can be more ques- Paus. ix. c. 36.) This strong predilection 
tionable than the whole recital. The for Egyptian marvels did not escape the no- 
honours of the sacred oak were shared in tice of Heliodorus. Aiyvirnov yap O.KOV- 
common with Jupiter, by Dione, whose cpa KO.I dirjyr][J,a Trav, 'EXXrjvucrjs ctKOTjs 
symbol, a golden dove, like the golden eTrayorarov. Lib. ii. p. 92. ed. Coray. A 
swallows on the brazen roof of Apollo at desire of tracing every thing to an Egyp- 
Delphi, (Find. Frag. vol. Hi. p. 54.) was tian origin is as conspicuous in the whole 
seen suspended from the branches of the body of Grecian story, as the propensity 
venerable tree. (Philostrat. Icon. ii. 34. of the middle ages to trace their institu- 
p. 858-9.) Hence the tradition. The tions and genealogic stock to king Priam, 
explanation of the Egyptian priesthood is According to Sir Stamford Raffles, the 
rendered intelligible by a passage in the Malays universally attempt to trace their 
Horapollo (ii. 32.), where it is stated that descent from Alexander and his followers, 
a black dove was the sacred symbol, under Pamphleteer, vol. 8. 

which these people expressed a woman 173 Higden Will inform us how busily 
maintaining her widowhood till death. tradition works in this way : " There is 
That this obvious source of the Dodonaan another sygne and token before y e Popes 
fable should have yielded to the impro- palays, an horse of bras, and a man syt- 
bable dictum of the Theban priesthood, tyng theron, and holdeth his right honde 
will not appear remarkable, when we re- as though he spake to the peple, and hold- 
member that the same class of men had eth his brydell in his lyfte honde, and 


and, by a strict comparison of its details with the analogous memorials 
of other nations, to separate those elements which are obviously of na- 
tive growth, from the occurrences bearing the impress of a foreign 
origin 174 . We shall gain little perhaps by such a course for the history 
of human events ; but it will be an important accession to our stock of 
knowledge on the history of the human mind. It will infallibly dis- 
play, as in the analysis of every similar record, the operation of that 
refining principle which is ever obliterating the monotonous deeds of 
violence that^n*!! the chronicle of a nation's early career ; and exhibit 
the brightest attribute in the catalogue of man's intellectual endow- 
ments a glowing and vigorous imagination, bestowing upon all the 
impulses of the mind a splendour and virtuous dignity, which, however 
fallacious historically considered, are never without a powerfully re- 
deeming good, the ethical tendency of all their lessons. 

The character of the specimens interspersed throughout Warton's 
History is a subject of more immediate moment; as it is intimately 
connected with a question which must be previously adjusted, before 
we can hope to see any advances towards a history of the English 
language. The most zealous friend of his fame will readily admit, 
that his extracts from our early poetry have not been made with 

hath a cucko bytwen his hors heres. And hym with his honde, and bare hym into 

a seke dvverf under his feet. Pylgryms the cyte. And for drede leste he sholde 

callen that man Theodericus. And the helpe hymselfe with his craft yf he myght 

comyns call him Constantinus; but clerkes speke, he threwe hym undir the hors 
of the courte calle hym Marcus and Q,uin- . feet, and the horse al to-trade hym. And 

tus Curtius They that calle hym Mar- therfor that ymage was made in remem- 

cus, telle this reson and skyll. There was braunce of this dede." Then follows the 
a dwerf of the kynred of Messenis, his account of those who called it Q. Curtius. 
craft was Nygromancye. Whan he had Trevisa's Translation, p. 24. 
subdewed kynges that dwelled nyghe J ? 4 The manner in which national fable 
hym, and made hem subgette to hym, swelled its mass of incident in the ancient 
thenne he wente to Rome, to warre with world, by having recourse to this practice, 
the Romayns. And with his craft he be- has been already noticed at pp. (22) (23). 
nam the Romayns power and might for to With the Greeks and Romans, every hero 
smyte, and beseged hem longe tyme iclosed whom they found celebrated in a foreign 
within the cyte. This dwerf went every soil for his prowess against wild beasts, 
day tofore the sonne rysyng in to the felde robbers or tyrants, was their own divinity 
for to do his crafte. Whan the Romayns Hercules ; and every traveller who had 
had espyed that maner doynge of the touched on a distant coast, Ulysses. This 
dwerf, they spake to Marcus, a noble system of appropriating the native tra- 
knyght, and behyghthym lordshyp of the ditions of their neighbours was not con- 
cyte, and a memoryall in mynde for ever- fined to the ancients. The followers of 
more, yf he wolde defende hem and save King Sigurd lorlafar, who visited Constan- 
the cyte. Thenne Marcus made an hole tinople in the year 1111, on their return 
thrugh the walle, longe er it were daye, from the holy land, brought an account to 
for to abyde his crafte to cache this dwerf. Norway that they had seen the images of 
And whan it was tyme, the cucko sange, their early kings, the Asae, the Volsunga?, 
and warned hym of the daye. Thenne and the Giukings, erected in the Hippo- 
Marcus reysed to, and bycause he myght drome of the Imperial city. Heimskrin- 
not hytte the dwerf with wepen, he caught gla, vol. iii. p. 245. 


that attention to the orthography of his manuscripts, which the ex- 
ample and authority of Mr. Ritson have since established as an indis- 
pensable law. There are occasional* instances also, where inadvertency 
has produced some confusion of the sense, by erroneous readings of his 
text ; and a few errors involving the same results, from indistinct- 
ness in the manuscript, or the difficulty of deciphering correctly some 
unusual or obsolete term. For the last of these deficiencies no further 
justification will be offered, than that they are of a kind which every 
publisher of early poetry must be more or less exposed to; that they 
are neither so important nor so numerous as they are usually consi- 
dered ; and that some allowance is due to the lax opinions entertained 
upon the subject when Warton's History made its appearance. The 
former will require a more minute investigation, both from the obloquy 
cast upon his reputation for omitting to observe it, and the importance 
it -has been made to assume in the labours of every subsequent anti- 
quary. The golden rule of Mr. Ritson, enforced by the precept and 
example of twenty years, and scrupulously adhered to by his disciples, 
is " integrity to the original text." The genius of the language, the 
qualifications of the transcriber, and the power of oral delivery upon 
the original writer, have been considered so subsidiary to this primary 
and elemental point, that they are scarcely noticed, or wholly omitted, 
in the discussion of the question. Every thing written has had con- 
ferred upon it the authority of an explicit statute, and fidelity to the 
letter of a manuscript is only to be infringed under certain obvious 
limitations. There might have been something to colour the rigid 
course thus prescribed, if it had been either proved or found that there 
was a general consistency observed in any single manuscript with itself, 
or that the various modes of writing the same word in one document 
were countenanced by a systematic mode of deviation in another. But 
so far is this from being the case, that a single line often exhibits a 
cfiange in the component letters of the same word (and which may 
have been written in the previous pages with every variety it is capable 
of) ; and no diligence or ingenuity can establish a rule, which will re- 
concile the orthography of one manuscript to that of its fellow, upon 
any principle of order or grammatical analogy. There is, however, 
nothing singular in this state of our early English texts, or of a nature 
not to admit of a comparatively easy solution. By far the greater num- 

* It might more truly be said, ' fre- tions, but had often obliterated the sense 

quent instances.' Mr. Price treats this sub- of the original, giving occasion to glossa- 

ject with too much indulgence ; as War- rial conjectures which the collation of the 

ton's errors in transcribing were by no text has shown to be wholly groundless,, 

means confined to orthographical varia- 11. T.] 

VOL. I. f 


bcr of these discrepancies may be fairly ascribed to the inattention of 
transcribers, a class of men whose heedless blunders have cast a pro- 
verbial stigma upon their labours, and who, to pass over the charges 
left against them by the ancient world, have been successively exposed 
to the anathemas of Orm and the censures of Chaucer. For the rest, 
we must refer to the circumstances under which the original documents 
were written, or the autographs as they were dismissed from the hands 
of their respective authors. 

At whatever age we assume the subject, subsequent to the Norman 
conquest, and previous to the invention of printing, the very absence 
of this most important of human arts might of itself assure us, that the 
forms of orthography would be more or less fluctuating, from the total 
want of any considerable number of copies following one general prin- 
ciple in the composition of their words. There never could have been, 
as at the present day, any multiplied exemplars of the same work, the 
literal fac-similes of each other, and consequently the reciprocal gua- 
rantees of their respective integrity and fidelity to the original text ; 
nor any acknowledged standard of appeal which was to direct the mind 
in cases of dubious issue. Hence every writer would of course adopt 
the general style acquired during his school instruction ; and where this 
chanced to be defective, he would naturally fly to analogy as the best 
arbitrator of his doubts. Now, though nothing is more certain than 
that the existing laws of our language are the consequences of some 
antecedent ones, and that all are governed by an analogy systematic in 
its constitution ; yet nothing also is more clear, than that unless we 
pursue this analogy according to its governing principle, it will lead us 
to the most erroneous and indefensible conclusions. Let any one for ex- 
ample assume some particular letters, as the unvarying representatives 
of any determinate sound ; and having applied them .in conjunction 
with the remaining symbols making up the different words in which 
this sound recurs, compare his novel mode of association with that ge- 
nerally received. The result will give him a language strongly resem- 
bling the written compositions of all our early manuscripts, with one 
grand distinction, that though this kind of analogy has been chiefly 
followed, it was never systematically adhered to ; and that the excep- 
tions to the rule have been hardly less numerous than the cases in 
which it has been applied. This we may readily conceive to have 
arisen from the influence of the style acquired enforcing one kind 
of analogy, and the unbiassed judgement of the writer unbiassed 
except by the natural power of oral delivery giving direction to 
another. The latter indeed must have been the universal guide in 


all cases of -uncertainty ; and, for the reason before given, both a 
varying and unsatisfactory one. In addition to these difficulties, there 
was another co-operating cause, which will of itself explain a large 
body of minor variations. The study of the English language, in com- 
mon with that of every vernacular dialect in Europe, was the offspring 
of comparatively recent ages ; and of the component parts which fill 
the measure of this study, orthography was nearly the last to occupy 
public attention. That it would have followed in the order of time, 
without the invention of printing, is clear from the attention bestowed 
upon it by the ancient world 175 . But it never could have demanded 
any share of serious notice, until the literature of the country had been 
to a certain degree matured ; until grammar as a science had become 
sedulously pursued ; and the labours of grammarians had established 
certain rules of orthoepy, which every writer would have willingly fol- 
lowed. From a combination of these causes, therefore, the unsettled 
state of early orthography is easily deducible. The confusion it has 
originated will be evident on the perusal of a single page in Mr. Ritson's 
Romances : but the corollary which has been drawn from it that the 
manuscripts exhibit a text whose integrity ought invariably to be pre- 
served can only be admitted under a presumption that the enuncia- 
tion of those who wrote them was as fluctuating as their graphic forms. 
The latter proposition is an inevitable consequence of the previous in- 
ference; and is a position in itself so unwarrantable and incredible, that 
it needs only to be considered with reference to its practicability, to 
receive the condemnation it merits. 

It is true, a great deal of traditionary opinion might be cited in 
favour of such an hypothesis, and several distinguished writers of our 
own day have been found to lend it the countenance of their names. 
Mr. Mitford has declared, that the Brut of Layamon displays " all the 
appearance of a language thrown into confusion by the circumstances, 
of those who spoke it 176 ;" and Mr. Sharon Turner has observed of our 

175 The state of our Anglo-Saxon ma- startling to the zealous admirer of our 
nuscripts and the labours of vElfric alone early literature, he will rather attribute 
might be cited in proof of these positions. them to the same cause which during an 

176 See Mr. Mitford's Harmony of Lan- age of romantic poetry makes the effusions 
guage. The expressions in the text have of Mr. Campbell's muse appear an echo of 
been taken from Mr. Campbell's citation, the chaste simplicity and measured energy 
in his Essay on English Poetry, p. 33, of Attic song. [The much -desired pub- 
where the reader will also find an able re- lication of the two texts of Layamon by 
futation of Mr. Ellis's opinions upon the the Society of Antiquaries, with the glos- 
progress of the English language. It is sarial annotations of Sir F. Madden, will 
impossible that Mr. Campbell should not throw much light on the early history of 
at all times be awake to the spirit of ge- our language. The same may be said 
nuine poetry, however disguised by the of some of the pieces lately printed in the 
rust of antiquity. And if some of the Antique of Messrs. Wright and 
criticisms in this genial Essay prove rather Halliwell, and in other collections : whilst 



language, in a still earlier stage, " The Saxon anomalies of grammar 
seem to have been so capricious, and so confused, that their meaning 
must have been often rather conjectured, than understood ; and hence 
it is, that their poetry, especially in Beowulf, is often so unintelligible 
to us. There is no settled grammar to guarantee the meaning ; we 
cannot guess so well nor so rapidly as they, who, talking every day in 
the same phrases, were familiar with their own absurdities. Or per- 
haps when the harper recited, they often caught his meaning from his 
gesticulation, felt it when they did not understand it, and thought ob- 
scurity to be the result of superior ability 177 ." It will be no disparage- 
ment to the talents of these distinguished historians, that a subject un- 
connected with the general tenor of their studies, and only incidentally 
brought before them, should have eluded their penetration ; or that a 
plausible theory, rather extensively accredited, should have surprised 
them into an acquiescence in its doctrines. But when it is asserted, 
under the authority of a name so deservedly esteemed as Mr. Mitford's, 
that political disturbances have produced a corresponding confusion in 
the structure of a nation's language, and that a disjointed time has been 
found to subvert the whole economy of a dialect, we are in justice 
bound to inquire, by what law of our nature these singular results en- 
sue, and in what degree the example given will warrant such a con- 
clusion. We may readily grant the learned advocate of this hypothesis 
any state of civil confusion he chooses to assume, in the ages imme- 
diately following upon the Norman conquest ; and still, with every ad- 
vantage of this concession, the position he has adopted must preserve 
all the native nakedness of its character. For, until it shall be shown 
that political commotions have a decided tendency to derange the in- 
tellectual and physical powers, in the same degree that they disorganize 
civil society ; and that, under the influence of troubled times, men are 

by the printing of the Exeter Book, under real existence, and your reasons for its dis- 
the superintendence of Mr. Thorpe, to continuance. Both propositions are equally 
whose care it has been entrusted by the defensible, and entitled to the same de- 
Saxon Committee of the Society of And- gree of credence. It is a common piece 
quaries, a very considerable addition to of address with the favourers of this 
the body of Anglo-Saxon poetry will be theory, to refer us to the language of some 
made accessible to the student. R.T.] savage Indian tribe, of whom we know as 
J 7? History of England, vol. i. p. 564. much as the traveller has been pleased to 
All opinions of this kind are evidently inform us. The personal qualifications of 
founded upon the belief that language is the latter to speak upon the question we 
the product of man's invention ; and that have no means of deciding. In a parallel 
the succession of time alone has perfected case, Dr. Johnson justly charged Montes- 
the first crude conceptions of his mind. quieu with want of fairness, for deducing 
To such a belief we may apply the argu- a general principle from some observance 
ment opposed to those who conceive the obtaining in Mexico or Japan, it might be, 
human race to have grown out of the earth for which he could adduce no better au- 
like so many cabbages. Bring forward thority than the vague account of some 
your proof that this phenomenon had a traveller whom accident had taken there. 


prone to forget the natural means of communicating their ideas, to 
falter in their speech, and recur to the babble of their infancy, we 
certainly have not advanced beyond the threshold of the argument. 
That such effects have ever occurred from the cause alleged, in any 
previous age, remains yet to be demonstrated ; that they do not occur 
in the existing state of society, that they are not therefore the neces- 
sary results of any acknowledged law of our nature, the experience 
of the last thirty years of European warfare and political change may 
at least serve as a testimony. 

An influx of foreigners, or a constant intercourse with and depend- 
ence upon them, may corrupt the idiom of a dialect to a limited extent, 
or charge it with a large accumulation of exotic terms; but this change 
in the external relation of the people speaking the dialect, will neither 
confound the original elements of which it is composed, nor destroy the 
previous character of its grammar. The lingua franca, as it is called, 
of the shores washed by the Mediterranean sea, contains an admixture 
of words requiring all the powers of an erudite linguist to trace the 
several ingredients to their parent sources ; yet with all the corruptions 
and innovations to which this oddly assorted dialect has been subject- 
ed, it invariably acknowledges the laws of Italian grammar. A similar 
inundation of foreign terms is to be found in the German writers of the 
seventeenth century, where the mass of Latin, Greek and French ex- 
pressions almost exceeds the number of vernacular words : yet here 
again the stranger matter has been made to accommodate itself to the 
same inflections and modal changes as those which govern the native 
stock. In considering the language of Layamon, however, there is no 
necessity for having recourse to this line of argument. In the speci- 
men published by Mr. Ellis, not a Gallicism is to be found, nor even a 
Norman term : and so far from exhibiting any " appearance of a lan- 
guage thrown into confusion by the circumstances of those who spoke 
it," nearly every important form of Anglo-Saxon grammar is rigidly 
adhered to ; and so little was the language altered at this advanced 
period of Norman influence, that a few slight variations might convert 
it into genuine Anglo-Saxon. That some change had taken place in 
the style of composition and general structure of the language, since 
the days of Alfred, is a matter beyond dispute ; but that these muta- 
tions were a consequence of the Norman invasion, or were even acce- 
lerated by that event, is wholly incapable of proof; and nothing is sup- 
ported upon a firmer principle of rational induction, than that the same 
effects would have ensued if William and his followers had remained in 
their native soil. The substance of the change is admitted on all hands 


to consist in the suppression of those grammatical intricacies, occasion- 
ed by the inflection of nouns, the seemingly arbitrary distinctions of 
gender, the government of prepositions, &c.* How far this may be con- 
sidered as the result of an innate law of the language, or some general 
law in the organization of those who spoke it, we may leave for the 
present undecided : but that it was no way dependent upon external 
circumstances, upon foreign influence or political disturbances, is esta- 
blished by this undeniable fact, that every branch of the Low German 
stock, from whence the Anglo-Saxon sprang, displays the same simpli- 
fication of its grammar. In all these languages, there has been a con- 
stant tendency to relieve themselves of that precision which chooses a 
fresh symbol for every shade of meaning, to lessen the amount of nice 
distinctions, and detect as it were a royal road to the interchange of 
opinion. Yet in thus diminishing their grammatical forms and simpli- 
fying their rules, in this common effort to evince a striking contrast to 
the usual effects of civilization, all confusion has been prevented by the 
very manner in which the operation has been conducted : for the revo- 
lution produced has been so gradual in its progress, that it is only to 
be discovered on a comparison of the respective languages at periods 
of a considerable interval. 

The opinions of Mr. Turner 178 upon the character of the Anglo- 
Saxon language might be safely left to the decision of the practical in- 
quirer, who, without allowing himself to be dazzled by the brilliancy of 
an abstract speculation, or to be swayed by the influence of a long- 
established prejudice, considers every theory with reference to man in 

[* A similar revolution took place in as well perhaps to offer one instance out 

the Greek language, in the decline of the of a thousand, in proof of the assistance to 

Byzantine empire, as has been noticed by be gained by a knowledge of the Anglo- 

Dr. Priestley, Lecture xiv. On the Theory Saxon grammar. The following passage, 

of Language ; also by A. W. Schlegel in as it stands in our present text, is false in 

his "Observations sur la Langue Pro- its grammatical construction, and defective 

ven9ale," 1818, p. 13, where he terms it a in alliteration : 

change from the synthetic to the analytic Gif thu Grendles dearst 

form, answering to Priestley's divisions Night longne 

into complex and simple. R.T.] Fyrstne anbidan. 

It would take a much greater space, M r. Turner's translation : 

to offer a detailed refutation of Mr. Tur- Tf . ., , 

ner's opinions, than is occupied in the ori- {J dare f ^ e Gre . n ? el 

ginal recital of them. But in a future e ? f a lon g ni 8 ht 
publication, when examining Mr. Tyr- 

whitt's Essay on the Language and Versi- Restore the grammar, and we obtain the 

fication of Chaucer, the editor pledges a lliteration,without changing a letter of the 

himself to substantiate by the most irre- text : 

fragable proofs all that he has advanced. Gif thu Grendles dearst 

In the present state of the question, he AHght-longne fyrst 

can only appeal to the common sense and .Mean bidan. 

daily experience of the reader, coupled If thou darest Grendles (encounter, 

with an assurance that the counsel and gething,o( t\ie context) 

practice of Junius and Hickes are directly (A) night long space 

opposed to this novel theory. It may be Near abide. 


society. To him we might appeal for the solution of our doubts, as to 
the possibility of conducting the commonest concerns of life, with these 
imperfect means of communicating our wants ; or how the Babel-like 
confusion attendant upon a people, who had " no settled grammar to 
guarantee their meaning, who were compelled to guess the import of 
their mutual absurdities," was not to involve a second dissolution of the 
social compact, and another separation of the families of the earth so 
visited. But fortunately Mr. Turner, in the same spirit of candour that 
attends all his investigations, has supplied us with the proofs upon 
which his conclusions are grounded ; and in so doing has afforded us 
the most satisfactory means of producing a refutation of his opinions. 
It may appear surprising, but it is nevertheless true, that of the nume- 
rous specimens adduced in support of the " capricious anomalies " to be 
found in Saxon grammar, not a single instance occurs which is not 
rigidly in unison with the laws of that grammar : and so strikingly con- 
sistent is the obedience they display to the rules there enforced, that 
any future historian of the language might select the same examples in 
proof of a contrary position. He would only have to apprise the reader 
of some peculiarities in those laws, which Mr. Turner seems to have 
misunderstood, or not to have been acquainted with ; and to inform him 
that the simple rule observed in our own times respecting the genders 
of nouns, was not acknowledged in Saxon grammar ; and consequently, 
that in this department there was a greater degree of complexity ; that 
the inflection of nouns was governed by no single norm, but varied as 
in the languages of the ancient world ; that every class embraced in this 
same part of speech, was not alike perfectly inflected ; that some exhibit 
a change of termination in almost every case, while others approach the 
simplicity of our present forms, having only a change in the genitive ; 
that a difference in the sense produced a change in the government of 
the prepositions 179 ; and lastly, that the adjective was differently in- 
flected, as it was used in conjunction with the definite or indefinite ar- 
ticle. With these observances, a reader unacquainted with a single line 
of Anglo-Saxon, and only assisted by the paradigm of declensions con- 
tained in any grammar, might reduce Mr. Turner's anomalies to their 
original order ; and collect from the regularity with which they conform 
to the standards given, the general spirit of uniformity that obtained 
throughout the language. Indeed there is nothing more striking, or 
more interesting to the ardent philologer, than the order and regularity 
preserved in Anglo-Saxon composition, the variety of expression, the 

1?9 Mr. Turner has noticed this pecu- was systematically observed ; which is the 
liarity, but then he has denied that it point at issue. 


innate richness, and plastic power with which the language is endowed ; 
and there are few things more keenly felt by the student of Northern 
literature, or a mind strongly alive to the same qualities as they are re- 
tained in the language of Germany, than that all these excellences 
should have disappeared in our own. But it will be better to remain 
silent on a subject of such vain regret, and to avail ourselves of the 
only advantage to be derived from the knowledge of it. It is capable 
of demonstration, that in the golden days of Anglo-Saxon literature, 
the sera of Alfred, the language of written composition was stable in its 
character, and to all appearance continued so till the cultivation of it 
among the learned became no longer an object of emulation. The 
mutations that ensued, it has been already asserted, were not the result 
of any capricious feeling, acknowledging no general principle of action ; 
but a revolution effected upon certain and determinate laws, which, 
however undefined in their origin, are sufficiently evident in their con- 
sequences. The general result has been, a language whose grammatical 
rules have been long ascertained, at least in every particular bearing 
upon the present subject ; and we are thus supplied with two unvarying 
standards of appeal at the extremes of the inquiry. Now, in such a 
state of the question, it will be obvious that every word which has 
retained to our own times the orthography bestowed upon it by the 
Anglo-Saxons, must during the intervening periods have preserved in 
the enunciation a general similarity of sound ; and that however differ- 
ently it may be written, or whatever additional letters or variations of 
them may have been conferred upon it by transcribers, there could 
have been only one legitimate form of its orthography. The changes 
introduced could only have been caused by an attempt to reconcile the 
orthography with the sounds emitted in delivery ; and ought not to be 
considered as in any degree indicative of a fluctuation in the mode of 
pronouncing them. In another numerous class of words, it is equally 
clear that a change of orthography from the Anglo-Saxon forms has 
arisen solely from the abolition of the accentual marks which distin- 
guished the long and short syllables. As a substitute for the former, 
the Norman scribes, or at least the disciples of the Norman school of 
writing, had recourse to the analogy which governed the French lan- 
guage ; and to avoid the confusion which would have sprung from ob- 
serving the same form in writing a certain number of letters differently 
enounced and bearing a different meaning, they elongated the word, or 
attached as it were an accent instead of superscribing it. From hence 
has emanated an extensive list of terms, having final e's and duplicate 
consonants ; and which were no more the representatives of additional 


syllables, than the acute or grave accent in the Greek language is a 
mark of metrical quantity 180 . Of those variations which arose from 
elision, a change in the enunciation, or from the adoption of a new 
combination of letters for the same sound, it is impossible to speak 
briefly ; and a diligent comparison of our early texts, and a clear un- 
derstanding of the analogies which have prevailed in the constitution 
of words, can alone enable us to speak decisively. But with this know- 
ledge before us of the real state of the question, it is high time to re- 
lieve ourselves of the arbitrary restrictions imposed by a critic wholly 
ignorant of the first principles by which language is regulated ; whose 
acquaintance with the fountain head of "English undefikd" induced 
him to call it " a meagre and barren jargon which was incapable of dis- 
charging its functions," (though possessing all the natural copiousness 
and plastic power of the Greek) ; and whose love for the lore itself 
seems rather to have arisen from a blind admiration of those barbaric 
innovations which make it repulsive to the scholar and the man of taste, 
than from any feeling of the excellences that adorn it 181 . The tram- 
mels of the Ritsonian school can only perpetuate error, by justifying 
the preconceived notions of " confusion and anomalies," from the very 
documents that ought to contain a refutation of such opinions ; and we 
can never hope to obtain a legitimate series of specimens, duly illus- 
trating the rise and progress of the language, till we recur to the same 
principles in establishing our texts that have been observed by every 
editor of a Greek or Roman classic. With such a system for our guide, 
we may expect to see the natural order which prevailed in the enunci- 
ation of the language, restored to the pages recording it ; and an effect- 
ual check imposed upon the " multiplying spawn" of reprints, which, 
in addition to all the errors preserved in the first impression from the 
manuscript, uniformly present us with the further mistakes of the ty- 
pographer. Whether such a principle was felt by Warton, in the sub- 
stitution he has made of more recent forms in his text, for the unsettled 
orthography of his manuscripts, must now be a fruitless inquiry ; but 
we shall have no difficulty in convincing ourselves, that his specimens 
would have been more intelligible to the age in which they were writ- 
ten, if enounced by a modern, than the transcripts of Mr. Ritson with 
all their scrupulous fidelity. 

180 The converse of this can only be peruseers,of such a collection are deceive'd 
maintained, under an assumption that the and impose'd upon ; the pleasure they re- 
Anglo-Saxon words of one syllable multi- ceive is derive 'd from the idea of antiquity, 
plied their numbers after the conquest, which in fact is perfect illusion ! " There 
and in some succeeding century subsided is no parrying an objection of this kind, 
into their primitive simplicity. which, forcible as it may be, is not quite 

181 Mr. Ritson has thus spoken of Dr. original. It is the language of that worthy 
Percy's corrections of the Reliques of gentleman, M. la Rancune, in the Roman 
English Poetry : " The purchaseers and Comique, troisieme partie, e. 9. 


The glossarial notes of Warton form so small a portion of his labours 
that they would not have required a distinct enumeration, had they not 
been made the subject of Mr. Ritson's animadversion. That they con- 
stituted no essential part of his undertaking, that his general views of 
our early poetry, and his opinions upon the respective merits of our 
poets, would have been as accurate and perspicuous without subjoining 
a single glossarial illustration, or failing to thrice the extent in which 
he has committed himself, will be felt by any liberal critic who will 
take the trouble of examining how fe\v of Warton's positions are affected 
by these deficiencies. The amount of obsolete terms in any early 
writer bears so small a proportion to the general mass of his matter, 
that his genius might be appreciated, and his excellences portrayed, 
by a person unable to refer to a single gloss on the text. The assist- 
ance thus acquired may develope particular beauties, or give a firmer 
comprehension of their effect ; but the poetry which depends for its 
merit upon the felicity of single phrases, whose import is only to be 
gathered from isolated terms, can scarcely suffer by our want of ability 
to detect its disjointed meaning. For every purpose of an historian, 
Warton's skill in glossography was certainly sufficient ; and if not co- 
extensive with the vaunted acquirements 182 of his opponent, it will 
hardly rank him lower in the scale of such attainments than the place 
allotted his adversary. There are few men at the present day who have 
given their attention to this subject, that will think otherwise than 
lightly of the " utmost care observed in the glossary " to the Metrical 
Romances ; and no one who has advanced to any proficiency in the 
study, who will not readily acknowledge the easy nature of such la- 
bours, how little of success is to be considered as the result of mental 
energy, the effort of genius rather than passive industry. 

It now only remains to give an account of the plan upon which the 
present Edition has been conducted. The text of Warton has been 
scrupulously preserved with the exception of a few unimportant cor- 
rections, of which notice is given by the interpolations being printed 

182 Whenever Mr. Ritson felt disposed of him.' The boy however manifestly 

to read a lecture on glossography, Mr. El- intends our seedy knight no compliment 

lis was usually summoned before the ma- in the question he asks : ' Is he aught/ 

gisterial chair. The following amusing spe- says he, ' but a wretch (or begerly ras- 

cimen may be cited by way of example : cal) ? What does any one care for him' ? " 

"Thanseyde f/te &oy,Nyshebutawrecche? Now simple as this passage maybe, Mr. 

What thar any man of hym recche? Ritson has contrived to " misconceive" it 

Mister Ellis hath strangely misconceive'd in two places : first by affixing a note of 

this simple passage; supposeing awreche interrogation to wrecche; and secondly by 

as it is there printed [i. e. in Ways Fab- overlooking the verb "thar" (need). This 

liaux] to be one word, and the meaning obsolete term occurs frequently in Mr. 

' He is not without his revenge (i. e. com- Ritson's volumes, but finds no place in hii 

pemation) whatever any man may think glossary. 


within brackets. The specimens of early poetry have been either col- 
lated with MSS. in the British Museum !83 , or copied from editions of 
acknowledged fidelity 184 ; and the glossarial notes corrected wherever 
the editor's ability was equal to the task. But less attention has been 
directed to this latter subject than would otherwise have been bestowed 
upon it, from an intention long entertained of giving a general glossary 
to the whole work, which should embrace Warton's numerous omis- 
sions. The additional notes are such as appeared necessary, either for 
illustration or emendation of the subjects noticed : but the editor was 
early taught that the former would comprise a small part of his duties, 
since, however lavish Warton may appear in the communication of his 
matter, it will be obvious to any one who will trace him through his 
authorities, that he has been parsimonious rather than prodigal in the 
use of his resources. With such a hint, it was therefore considered in- 
cumbent to give no additional illustration which could by possibility 
have been within his knowledge. To the First Dissertation such notes 
have been added as could be conveniently introduced without inter- 
fering with Warton's theory ; the Second is so complete in itself, that 
the editor has been unable to detect in the more recent labours of Eich- 
horn, Heeren, Turner and Berrington, any omission which may not be 
considered as intentional. The Third relates to a subject of which War- 
ton has rather uncovered the surface than explored the depths ; and 
which, notwithstanding the subsequent and important labours of Mr. 
Douce, still awaits a further investigation. In this Edition, however, it 
has been made to follow those originally prefixed by Warton to his first 
volume, from a conviction that it will be found equally useful in prepa- 
ring the reader's mind for the topics discussed in the succeeding pages. 

But though thus compelled to speak of his own labours as first in the 
order of time, and with reference to the disposition of the work, the 
editor has the pleasing task of communicating that the most important 
contributions to these volumes have flowed from other sources. Nearly 
the whole of Warton's first and second volume had been sent to the 
press when the publisher acquired by purchase the papers of Mr. Park, 
a gentleman whose general acquaintance with early English literature 
is too well known to need remark, and whose attention for many years 

183 Mr. Park's collations of the Oxford cond. [In the present edition, vol. ii. pp. 
MSS. will be found at the end of the re- 338 360.] It has been faithfully reprinted 
spective volumes containing Warton's from Warton's text with all the inaccura- 
transcripts. [These collations are now cies of the first transcripts (as they were 
incorporated into the text.] gathered at the time from periodical pub- 

184 The section on the Rowleian con- lications), that the reader interested in the 
troversy forms an exception. It was ori- subject might form an estimate of the state 
ginally intended to throw this chapter into of the question when Warton pronounced 
an appendix; but a new division of the his decision. 

volumes brought it to the close of the se- 


has been directed to an improved edition of the History of English 
Poetry. Among the accessions thus obtained were found some valu- 
able remarks by Mr. Ritson, Mr. Douce, and an extract of every thing 
worthy of notice in the copious notes of Dr. Ashby 185 , and an extensive 
body of illustrations either collected or written by Mr. Park, of which 
it would be presumption in a person so little qualified as their present 
editor to offer an opinion. To have incorporated this newly acquired 
matter in the respective pages to which it refers was found impossible, 
without cancelling nearly the whole impression, and it has therefore 
been subjoined in the shape of additional notes at the close of each 
volume*. Fortunately, however, the greater share of Mr. Park's com- 
mentary was directed to the contents of Warton's Third Volume, and 
was consequently obtained in time to be inserted beneath the original 
text. For this portion of the edition, indeed, Mr. Park may be considered 
responsible, as the editor's notes were withdrawn wherever they touched 
upon a common subject, and those remaining are too few to need any 
specific mention. It would have been more agreeable if such an oppor- 
tunity had presented itself in an earlier stage of the work ; but however 
much might have been gained by having the same information com- 
municated in a more pleasing form, this was not thought sufficient to 
countervail the objection that might have been brought against the 
work for its extensive repetitions. Wherever therefore Mr. Park's 
remarks on the previous volumes referred to a common subject without 
supplying any further illustration of it, they have been suppressed : but 
this, with the exception of a few animadversions of a sectarian tendency, 
and one or two notes copied from other writers, and obviously inaccu- 
rate, forms the whole that has been withdrawn from the public eye. 

In the progress of his duties, a variety of subjects presented them- 
selves to the editor's mind, as requiring some further illustration than 
could be lawfully comprised within the limits of a note ; and under 
this impression he more than once ventured to promise a further dis- 
cussion of the points at issue, in some subsequent part of the work. 
But the materials connected with these topics have so grown under his 
hands, that he has been compelled to relinquish the intention, and to 
reserve for a separate and future undertaking the inquiries to which 
they relate. The promised account of the distinctions of dialect in 
the Anglo-Saxon language, and the state of their poetry 186 , has been 

185 The papers of Dr. Ashby were also they will bear no comparison, as to value 

purchased at the same time (at no small and importance, with those of Mr. Price, 

expense) ; but they were not found to con- R.T.j 

tain anything of consequence which had 186 The Anglo-Saxon ode given at p. 

not been previously used by Mr. Park. Ixvi. will be considered a substitute 

* [In the present edition they are in- perhaps for this omission. One of the 

corporated. It is admitted, however, that obscurities in that poem may be removed 


in part withheld for the same reasons ; arid partly from a knowledge 
subsequently obtained that the subject was in much better hands. A 
volume containing numerous specimens of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo- 
Norman poetry, with translations and illustrations by the Rev. J. J. 
Conybeare, is on the eve of publication *. 

NOTE omitted at p. (76.) 1. 1. 

FOR the same reason (want of space) it has been found necessary to 
omit any examination of the general style of the romantic tale, and the 
tone and colouring of its events, as compared with similar productions 
of the ancient world. The latter indeed are only preserved to us in 
the meagre notices of the grammarians ; but even these inadequate 
memorials contain the traces of all those lineaments which have been 
supposed to confer an original character upon the poetry of modern 
Europe. The same love of adventure, of heroic enterprise, and gallant 
daring ; the same fondness for extraordinary incident and marvellous 
agency obtrudes itself at every step : and to take one example out of 
many, the Life of Perseus might be made to pass for the outline of an 
old romance or the story of a genuine chevalier preux. Let the reader 
only remember the illegitimate but royal descent of this hero, his ex- 
posure to almost certain death in infancy, his providential escape, the 
hospitality of Dictys, the criminal artifices of Polydectes, the gallant 
vow by which the unsuspecting stranger hopes to lessen his obligation 
to the royal house of Seriphus, the consequences of that vow, the aid 
he receives from a god and goddess, the stratagem by which he gains 
a power over the monstrous daughter of Phorcys who alone can in- 
struct him in the road which leads to the dwelling of the Nymphs the 
gifts conferred upon him by the latter, the magic scrip (which is to 
conceal the Gorgon's head without undergoing petrifaction}, the winged 
sandals (which are to transport him through the air), the helmet of 
Pluto (which is to render him invisible), the sword of Mercury, or, ac- 
cording to other traditions, of Vulcan, and the assistance given him by 
Minerva in his encounter with the terrific object of his pursuit, let 
the reader only recall these circumstances to his memory, and he will 
instantly recognise the common details of early European romance. 
Again : his punishment of the inhospitable and wily Atlas, the rescue 
of Andromeda, and the slaughter of the monster about to devour her ; 
the rivalry and defeat of Phineus, the delivery of Danae from the lust 
of Polydectes, and the ultimate succession of Perseus to the throne of 
Argos, which he forgoes that he may become the founder of another 
kingdom, only complete the train of events, which make up the suc- 
cessful course of a modern hero's adventures. A mere change of 
names and places, with the substitution of a dwarf for Mercury, and 

by a slight emendation of the text. [See his brother, the Rev. Will. Dan. Cony- 

the proposed emendation, " we rig and beare, rector of Sully, who has made many 

wiges ssed," in note 12 , p. Ixxii.] valuable additions. It is however con- 

* [The lamented death of Mr. Cony- fined to the Anglo-Saxon period, and 

beare retarded for some time the appear- does not include the Anglo-Norman. 

ance of this volume, but it was eventually M.] 
published in 1826 under the editorship of 


a fairy for Minerva, of a giantess for the Phorcydes, of a mild enchan- 
tress for the Nymphs, a magician for Atlas, and the terrific flash of the 
hero's eyes for the petrifying power of Medusa's head an Icelandic 
romance would say " at hafa aegishialmr i augom," with a due ad- 
mixture of all the pageantry of feudal manners, would give us a ro- 
mance, which, for variety of incident and the prolific use of supernatu- 
ral agency, might vie with any popular production of the middle-age*. 
The extraordinary properties of the sandals and helmet have already 
been shown to occupy a conspicuous rank among the wonders of mo- 
dern romance ; the sword of Mercury was called Harpe, as that of 
Arthur was named Excalibor ; while to prove the affinity of this sin- 
gular story with the genuine elements of popular fiction, all its inci- 
dents are to be found in the life of the Northern Sigurdr, or the Nea- 
politan tale of Lo Dragone (Pentamerone, Giorn. iv. Nov. 85.). 

There is another point connected with the present subject, upon 
which a similar silence has been observed, and found exclusively in 
modern romance, the tone of chivalric devotion to the commands 
and wishes of the softer sex, and the general spirit of gallantry, which 
without the influence of passion acknowledged their rights and privi- 
leges. On a future occasion it will be shown, that in considering this 
question, the expressions of Tacitus in his Germany have been too 
literally interpreted. There is little in this valuable tract, relative to 
the female sex, which does not find a parallel in the institutions of 
other nations of the ancient world, wherever we find a notice of them, 
under a similar degree of civilization. The respect paid to female in- 
spiration ought not to receive a more enlarged acceptation than is 
given to the remark of Pythagoras : " He further observed, that the 

inventor of names perceiving the genus of women is most adapted 

to piety, gave to each of their ages the appellation of some Deity. In 
conformity to which also, the oracles in Dodona and at Delphi are 
unfolded into light by a woman." (Iamb. Life of Pythagoras, c. xi. 
Taylor's Transl.) Indeed the customs of the Doric States have been 
wholly overlooked in settling this question, and the Attic or Ionic 
system of seclusion taken for the general practice of all Greece f. Is 
there any thing in Tacitus more decidedly in favour of female rights, 
than the apophthegm of Gorgo preserved by Plutarch (and quoted 
from memory)? " Of all your sex in Greece," said a stranger, " you 
Lacedaemonian women alone govern the men." " True," replied 
Gorgo ; " but then we alone are the mothers of men." The elder Cato 
met a similar charge by observing, " Omnes homines mulieribus im- 
perant, nos omnibus hominibus, nobis mulieres." But here again it 
was insufficient to check those results so mournfully portrayed by 
Tacitus in his Annals and his History. If, however, this feeling were 
of Northern or Germanic origin, we might naturally expect that it 
would be most apparent among those nations who were last converted 
to Christianity, and who are known to have preserved so many of their 
ancient opinions. Now Mr. Muller, who has just risen from the per- 
usal of all the Northern Sagas, assures us, that there is no trace of 
romantic gallantry in any of these productions : and it is clear from 
his analysis of many, that the Scandinavian women in early times were 

* [See Keightley's Mythology, ed. 2. and Private Life of the Ancient Greeks," 
p. 414.] a translation of which has been lately 

t [See Dr. Heinrich Hase's " Public published, R.T.] 


cuffed and buffeted with as little compunction as Amroo and Morfri 
castigate Ibla. (See Antar, i. 331. ii. 71.) We might with equal pro- 
priety attempt to trace to the forests of Germany all the subtleties of 
the scholastic philosophy (and which arose in the same age as the 
courts of Love), as to claim for their inhabitants that reverence and 
adoration of the female sex which has descended to our own times. 
This deference to female rights and the establishment of an equality 
between the sexes have in their origin been wholly independent of 
love as a passion, (whose language in all ages and among all nations 
has been the same,) and are manifestly the offspring of that dispensa- 
tion which has purified religion of every sensual rite, and which, by 
spiritualizing all our hopes and wishes of a future existence, has shed 
the same refining influence* on our present institutions : " L'amour de 
Dieu et des dames" was not a mere form. 

[* See Aikin's Epistles on Women, 1810; Ep. iii. 1. 248.] 


I subjoin the genealogy from the Edda of Snorro Sturleson to which I have 
alluded in my note (p. 75.) ; and if I am right in supposing that it was over- 
looked formerly by Mr. Conybeare and Mr. Price in their inquiries relative to 
the mythic personages of Anglo-Saxon poetry in which I had the pleasure to 
participate, and recently by Mr. Kemble in the very interesting disquisitions in 
which he has so ably followed up these investigations, I shall be glad that it 
has once more fallen in my way to contribute anything to the elucidation of a 
question which long ago interested me, when I was first led to suggest that 
Beow-ulf was the Beaw of the Saxon genealogies. 

Whether we are to consider the names in these genealogies as those of per- 
sonages having really existed, and indebted for their supernatural attributes to 
traditionary exaggeration, or of the mythic personifications of principles or 
attributes which were worshipped as gods, and " from being gods, have sunk 
into epic heroes," may afford matter for curious speculation. Mr. Kemble ap- 
pears to have come over to the latter opinion, upon grounds which he states 
much at length in his Postscript. He there suggests that Beow might have 
been the principle of fertility, or god of harvest, (as Eostre was the goddess of 
spring,) whence his connection with Sceaf ; that Scildwa was an appellative 
of the Deity as a protector] Geata, as the author of abundance ; and so of others, 
from etymological conjecture. He concludes that when all the names are re- 
jected from the lists " which are mere appellatives of God, there remain to us 
five only, Sceafa, Beowa, Geat,- Finn, and Woden " "of these five the two last 
and three first seem respectively classed together, and denote the active, 
moving godhead, and the fruitful increase-giving godhead." p. xxvi. ; and he 
thence argues " that the three first are names of Woden himself in one of his 
characters, and the two last in another of his characters." Yet though ori- 
ginally " mere appellatives of God," he nevertheless looks upon all the names 
as having acquired personality, and thus been " introduced into epic poetry, 
and represented as gods to be worshipped with altars and sacrifice, until 
Christianity, by overturning the old creed, reduced them to the rank of heroes." 
p. xxvi. 

I confess, however, that such a view of the subject appears to me rather to 
originate in notions derived from philosophical speculation or later schemes of 
theology, involving even the meaning of the terms ' person' and 'personality,' 
than in what can be conceived of a barbarous people in such early times : 
and I should still be inclined, instead of attributing to their deities this 
ideal origin, to seek for them as really distinct persons, of whose individual ' 



existence traces may perhaps still be found among the earliest records of the 

Edda of Snorro Sturleson. 

Saxon Chron. 



Goransson's edit. 

An. 854. 

Wesscx geneal. 

MS. Trin. 


Sif, the~sybill 


Adam, &c. 







En oh 


















Sceaf, Sescef, 


[id est, filius 

fuit filius Noae 

Noe]. &c. 

natusin Area 















(nobis Annan) 














(nobis Skiold) 


(nobis Skiolld) 





(nobis Bjar) 

(nobis Bear) 


Gunn's edit. 







Geta, qiiifttit 




Godulf, [aliis 

filius del. 












(nobis Friedlieff) 

(nobis Fridleif ) 








WODEN Frea- 


(nobis Odinn) 

(nobis O]?in) 

Odin's 4 sons, 
<^ nobis Baldr 





I Sigi 




II en gist & 













Cud wine 







Thus " Beaf and Beir" are not to be " at once rejected as Norse blunder*, 
occurring only in the Fornaldar Sbg," as Mr. Kemble (Postscript, p. xiii.) had 
supposed. Buri, mentioned by him at p. xxv. as a progenitor of Woden, is a 
name also having some resemblance to Boerinus. Lieding, in the edition of 
Kesemus, may have been the error of a transcriber for Bedwig; as probably Stre- 
pheus has been for Scepheus, Sternodius either for Itermon or Heremod, and 

olepald in Gale for Folcpalb, who in Nennius takes the place of Godulf. 

subject will probably receive further illustration whenever Mr. Thorpe 

shall publish his translation, with notes and additions, of Lappenberg's valuable 

history ot England during the Saxon period. R, TAYLOR. 





JLHAT peculiar and arbitrary species of Fiction which we commonly 
call Romantic, was entirely unknown to the writers of Greece and 
Rome *. It appears to have been imported into Europe by a people, 
whose modes of thinking, and habits of invention, are not natural to 
that country. It is generally supposed to have been borrowed from the 
Arabians f. But this origin has not been hitherto perhaps examined 
or ascertained with a sufficient degree of accuracy. It is my present 
design, by a more distinct and extended inquiry than has yet been ap- 
plied to the subject, to trace the manner and the period of its introduc- 
tion into the popular belief, the oral poetry, and the literature, of the 

It is an established maxim of modern criticism that the fictions of 

* [" It cannot be true," says Ritson, 
" that romance was entirely unknown to 
the writers of Greece and Rome ; since, 
without considering the Iliad, Odyssey, 
jEneid, &c. in that point of view, we have 
many ancient compositions, which-clearly 
fall within that denomination : as the pas- 
toral of Daphnis and Chloe by Longus; 
the ./Ethiopicks of Heliodorus ; Xenophon's 
Ephesian History," &c. &c. (MS-, note in 
Dr. Raine's copy of Warton's History, 
purchased from Ritson's library.) To 
these recollections, Mr. Douce has added 
the romance of Apuleius ; the loves of 
Clitophon and Leucippe, by Achilles Ta- 
tius ; and the very curious Adventures of 
Rhodanes and Sinonis, or the Babylonic. 
Romance, of which an epitome is preserved 
by Photius in his Bibliotheca, Cod. xciv. 
" This," says Mr. D., "is perhaps the old- 
est work of the kind, being composed by 
one lamblicus, who lived under Marcus 

" The progress of romance and the state 

VOL. I. 

of learning in the middle ages (says Gib- 
bon, Decline and Fall,) are illustrated by 
Mr. Thomas Warton with the taste of a 
poet, and the minute diligence of an anti- 
quarian. I have derived much instruction 
from the two learned dissertations prefixed 
to the first volume of his History of En- 
glish Poetry." PARK.] 

[This is a mere cavil of Mr. Ritson's, 
who could not believe a scholar of Warton's 
attainments to have been unacquainted 
with these erotic novels. Several of them 
are mentioned in vol. ii. Sect. xii. note b 
(second series). In the dissertation on Ro- 
mance and Minstrelsy, Warton is even re- 
proached for describing another the loves 
of Clitophon and Leucippe as a "poetical 
novel of Greece." In fact, it is manifest 
from this expression, that Warton chose to 
exclude this and similar productions from 
the title of romantic fictions. PRICE.] 

t [See Huet, Traite de 1'Origine des 
Romans, who has discussed this opinion 
at large. DOUCE.] 


Arabian imagination were communicated to the western world by 
means of the Crusades. Undoubtedly those expeditions greatly con- 
tributed to propagate this mode of fabling in Europe. But it is evi- 
dent (although a circumstance which certainly makes no material dif- 
ference as to the principles here established,) that these fancies were 
introduced at a much earlier period. The Saracens, or Arabians, 
having been for some time seated on the northern coasts of Africa, 
entered Spain about the beginning of the eighth century a . Of this 
country they soon effected a complete conquest ; and imposing their 
religion, language, and customs, upon the inhabitants, erected a royal 
seat in the capital city of Cordova*. 

That by means of this establishment they first revived the sciences 
of Greece in Europe, will be proved at large in another place b : and it 
is obvious to conclude, that at the same time they disseminated those 
extravagant inventions which were so peculiar to their romantic and 
creative genius. A manuscript cited by Du Cange acquaints us, that 
the Spaniards, soon after the irruption of the Saracens, entirely 
neglected the study of the Latin language ; and, captivated with the 
novelty of the oriental books imported by these strangers, suddenly 
adopted an unusual pomp of style, and an affected elevation of 
diction . The ideal tales of these Eastern invaders, recommended by 
a brilliancy of description, a variety of imagery, and an exuberance of 
invention, hitherto unknown and unfamiliar to the cold and barren 
conceptions of a western climate, were eagerly caught up, and univer- 
sally diffused. From Spain, by the communications of a constant 
commercial intercourse through the ports of Toulon and Marseilles, 
they soon passed into France and Italy f. 

In France, no province, or district, seems to have given these fictions 
of the Arabians a more welcome or a more early reception, than the 
inhabitants of ArmoricaJ or Basse-Bretagne, nowBritany ; for no part 

a See Almakin, edit. Erpenius, p. 72. but one mentioned by any ancient writer, 

* [The conquest of Spain by the Ara- which existed before the first Crusade un- 

bians becomes one of the most curious and der Godfrey earl of Bologne, afterward 

important events recorded in history, when king of Jerusalem, in 1097. PARK.] 
it is considered as having in a great degree J [From Ar y-mor ucha', i. e. on the 

contributed to the progress of civilization upper sea. See Jones's Relicks of the 

in Europe, and to the diffusion of science Welsh Bards. PARK.] 
and art. (See this illustrated in the Ara- ["The laws of this country," says Rit- 

bian Antiquities of Spain, by J.C. Murphy.) son, " were anciently very celebrated, al- 

" But there is evidence, though not the most though not one, nor even the smallest ves- 

satisfactory," says Mr. Douce, " that the tige of one, in its vernacular language (a 

fabulous stories of Arthur and his Knights dialect of the Britanno-Celtic) is known 

existed either among the French or En- to exist. The Bretons have but one single 

glish Britons, before the conquest of Spain poem, of any consequence, in their native 

by the Arabians." PARK.] idiom, ancient or modern : the predictions 

b See the second Dissertation. of a pretended prophet, named Gwinglaff, 

c " Arabico eloquio sublimati," &c. Du the MS. whereof is dated 1450."- Notes 

Cang. Gloss. Med. Inf. Latinitat. torn. i. to Metric. Rom. iii. 329. Ritson after- 

Prsef. p. xxvii. 31. wards expresses his belief, that by Bre- 

f [Ritson avers, that there is not one tagne and Bretons were meant the island 

single French romance now extant, and and inhabitants of Great Britain. At the 



of France can boast so great a number of antient romances . Many 
poems of high antiquity, composed by the Armorican bards, still 
remain d , and are frequently cited by Father Lobineau in his learned 

same time, it does not (he thinks) appear, 
that any such lays are preserved in Wales 
any more than in Basse- Bretagne, if, in 
fact, they ever existed in either country. 
Ibid. p. 332. In his Dissertation on Ro- 
mance and Minstrelsy, (p. xxiv.) Ritson 
adds two other Armoric poems to the pre- 
dictions of Gwinglaff, viz. the life of Gwe- 
nole, abbot of Landevenec, one of their 
fabulous saints ; and a little dramatic piece 
on the taking of Jerusalem. Thus, our 
doughty critic, from being too positive and 
too peremptory, had cause to correct his 
own hallucinations as well as those of 
others. PARK.] 

[See the "Essais Historiques sur les 
Bardes," &c. by the late Abbe de la Rue, 
torn. i. pp. 1-100. 8vo. Caen, 1834. M.] 
c The reason on which this conclusion 
is founded, will appear hereafter. ["It is 
difficult," says Mr. Douce, " to conceive, 
that the people of Britany could have been 
influenced by the Arabians at any period." 

d In the British Museum is a set of old 
French tales of chivalry in verse, written, 
as it seems, by the bards of Bretagne. 
MSS. Harl. 978. 107. 

[These tales were not written by the 
bards of Bretagne, but by a poetess of the 
name of Marie de France, of whom no- 
thing is known. In one of these lais she 
names herself, and says that most of her 
tales are borrowed from the old British 
lais. The scenes of several of these stories 
are laid in Bretagne, which appears some- 
times to mean Britany in France, and 
sometimes Great Britain 1 . DOUCE.] 

[Marie is not mentioned in Le Grand's 
catalogue, though he has modernised and 
published her Fables in French, from king 
Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version of ^Esop. 
That she had written lays seems not to 
have been known to him. M. de la Rue 
has given a list of her lays in Archaeol. xiii. 
42. They are twelve in number and one 
of them contains 1184 verses. She also 
wrote a history or tale in French verse, of 
St. Patrick's Purgatory, two copies of which 
are in the British Museum. This was early 
translated into English under the title of 
O wayne Miles (Sir Owen). Mr. Ellis, in his 
Specimens of early English Metrical Ro- 
mances, has introduced an abstract or ana- 
lysis of the lays of Marie, which he informs 
us that Ritson either neglected to read, or 
was unable to understand ; since he de- 

nied their Armorican origin. See his ob- 
servations, vol. i. p. 137. Mr. Way pub- 
lished an elegant version of the first of 
these lays (Guigemar) in his Fabliaux; 
and Mr. Ellis printed an early translation 
of the third (Lai le Fresne) from the Au- 
chinleck MS. in his Romance Specimens. 

" TRISTRAM a WALES" is mentioned, 
f. 171. b. 

Tristram ki bien saveit HARPEIR. 

In the adventure of the knight ELIDUC, 
f. 172. b. 

En Bretaine ot un chevalier 
Pruz, 6 curteis, hardi, e fier. 

Again, under the same champion, f. 173. 

II tient sun chemin tut avant. 

A la mer vient, si est passez, 

En Toteneis est arrivez ; 

Plusurs reis ot en la tere, 

Entr'eus eurent estrif 6 guere, 

Vers Excestre en eel pais 
TOTENEIS is Totness in Devonshire. 
Under the knight MILUN, f. 166. 

Milun fu de Suthwales nez. 
He is celebrated for his exploits in Ire- 
land, Norway, Gothland, Lotharingia, Al- 
bany, &c. 
Under LAUNVAL, f. 154. b. 

En Bretun 1'apelent Lanval. 
Under GUIGEMAR, f. 141. 

La caumbre ert painte tut entur : 
Venus le dieuesse d'amur, 
Fu tres bien mis en la peinture, 
Les traiz mustrez e la nature, 
Cument hum deit amur tenir, 
E lealment e bien servir. 
Le livre Ovide u il ensegne, &c. 
This description of a chamber painted 
with Venus and the three mysteries of na- 
ture, and the allusion to Ovid, prove the 
tales before us to be of no very high anti- 
quity. But they are undoubtedly taken 
from others much older, of the same 

[Mr. Douce observes that Warton has to- 
tally misunderstood these lines, in which 
there is nothing about the mysteries of na- 
ture ; and they mean no more than that 
the chamber exhibited the description and 
manner how a man should fall in love, &c. 
Mustrez is put for montre. PARK.] 

At the end of ELIDUC'S tale we have 
these lines, f. 181. 

1 See Note B. at the end of this Dissertation. 


history of Basse-Bretagne 6 . This territory was, as it were, newly 
peopled in the fourth century by a colony or army of the Welsh, who 
migrated thither under the conduct of Maximus, a Roman general in 
Britain f , and Conau, lord of Meiriadoc or Denbighland &. The Armoric 
language now spoken in Britany is a dialect of the Welsh: and so 
strong a resemblance still subsists between the two languages, that in 
our late conquest of Belleisle (1756), such of our soldiers as were 
natives of Wales were understood by the peasantry *. Milton, whose 
imagination was much struck with the old British story, more than 
once alludes to the Welsh colony planted in Armorica by Maximus, 
and the prince of Meiriadoc. 

Et tandem ARMORICOS Britonum sub lege colonos h . 
And in the PARADISE LOST he mentions indiscriminately the knights 
of Wales and Armorica, as the customary retinue of king Arthur. 

_ What resounds 

In fable or romance of Uther's son 

Begirt with BRITISH and ARMORIC knights 1 . 

This migration of the Welsh into Britany or Armorica, which 
during the distraction of the empire, (in consequence of the numerous 
armies of barbarians with which Rome was surrounded on every side,) 
had thrown off its dependence on the Romans, seems to have occa- 
sioned a close connexion between the two countries for many centu- 
ries 11 . Nor will it prove less necessary to our purpose to observe, that 

Del aventure de ces treis, chieftain of North Wales. She was born 

Li auncien BRETUN curteis at Caernarvon, where her chapel is still 

Firent le lai pour remembrer shown. Mon. Antiq. p. 166. seq. 

Que hum nel' deust pas oublier. s See Hist, de Bretagne,par d'Argentre, 

And under the tale of FRESNE, f. 148. P- 2. Peel's Wales, p. 1, 2. seq. and 

p. 6. edit. 1584. Lhuyd's Etymol. p. 32. 

Li BRETUN en firent un to. ^ 3 And Galfrid / Mon . y Hist . P Brit . 

At the conclusion of most of the tales it is lib> v< c> 12 . yii. 3. ix. 2. Compare Borlase, 

said that these LAIS were made by the Antiq. Cornwall, b. i. ch. 10. p. 40. 
poets of Bretaigne. Another of the tales * [ Mr . Ellis further observes, that the 

is thus closed, f. 146. Sclavonian sailors, employed on board of 

De cest conte k'o'i avez Venetian ships in the Russian trade, never 

Fu Gugemer le LAI trovez fail to recognise a kindred dialect on their 

Q,ui hum dist en harpe e en rote arrival at St. Petersburgh. Historical 

Bone en est a oi'r la note. Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the 

e Histoire de Bretagne, ii. torn. fol. [Mr. English Poetry and Language, i. 8. 

Ritson says, he repeatedly, but unsuccess- PARK.] 
fully, examined Lobineau for these cita- h Mansus. 

tions, and that Mr. Douce had equally failed l Parad. L. i. 579. Compare Pelloutier, 

in discovering them. PRICE.] Mem. sur la Langue Celt. fol. torn. i. 19. 

f Maximus appears to have set up a se- k This secession of the Welsh, at so cri- 

parate interest in Britain, and to have en- tical a period, was extremely natural, into 

gaged an army of the provincial Britons a neighbouring maritime country, with 

on his side against the Romans. Not sue - which they had constantly trafficked, and 

ceeding in his designs, he was obliged to which, like themselves, had disclaimed the 

retire with his British troops to the con- Roman yoke. 

tinent, as in the text. He had a consider- [That the British soldiers, enrolled by 

able interest in Wales, having married Maximus, wandered into Armorica after 

EUena daughter of Eudda, a powerful his death, and new named it, seems to be 


the Cornish Britons, whose language was another dialect of the antient 
British, from the fourth or fifth century downwards, maintained a no 
less intimate correspondence with the natives of Armorica: inter- 
marrying with them, and perpetually resorting thither for the educa- 
tion of their children, for advice, for procuring troops against the 
Saxons, for the purposes of traffick, and various other occasions. This 
connexion was so strongly kept up, that an ingenious French antiquary 
supposes, that the communications of the Arrnoricans with the Cornish 
had chiefly contributed to give a roughness or rather hardness to the 
romance or French language in some of the provinces, towards the 
eleventh century, which was not before discernible 1 . And this inter- 
course will appear more natural, if we consider, that not only Armo- 
rica*, a maritime province of Gaul, never much frequented by the 
Remans, and now totally deserted by them, was still in some measure 
a Celtic nation; but that also the inhabitants of Cornwall, together 
with those of Devonshire, and of the adjoining parts of Somersetshire, 
intermixing in a very slight degree with the Romans, and having 
suffered fewer important alterations in their original constitution and 
customs from the imperial laws and police than any other province of 
this island, long preserved their genuine manners and British character; 
and forming a sort of separate principality under the government of a 
succession of powerful chieftains, usually denominated princes or dukes 
of Cornwall, remained partly in a state of independence during the 
Saxon heptarchy, and were not entirely reduced till the Norman con- 
quest. Cornwall, in particular, retained its old Celtic dialect till the 
reign of Elizabeth" 1 . 

And here I digress a moment to remark, that in the circumstance just 

unfounded. I cannot avoid agreeing with prince of the Cambrian Britons, which was 

Du Bos, that "quant aux terns ou la peu- published with the original text in 1792. 

plade des Britons insulaires s'est etablie It comprises the poem mentioned by Mr. 

dans les Gaules," it was not before the year Warton, which is marked by many poetic 

513. Hist. Crit. ii. 470. TURNER.] and pathetic passages. Lly ware flourished 

It is not related in any Greek or Ro- from about A.D. 520 to 630, at the period 

man historian. But their silence is by no of Arthur and Cadwallon. See Owen's 

means a sufficient warrant for us to reject Cambrian Biography. PARK.] 

the numerous testimonies of the old Bri- l M. 1'Abbe Lebeuf, Recherches, &c. 

tish writers concerning this event. It is Mem. de Litt. torn. xvii. p. 718. edit. 4to. 

mentioned, in particular, by Lly ware Hen, " Je pense que cela dura jusqu'a ce que le 

a famous bard, who lived only one hun- commerce de ces provinces avec les peu- 

dred and fifty years afterwards. Many of pies du Nord, et de rAllemagne, et SUR 

his poems are still extant, in which he TOUT celui des HABITANS DE L'ARMO- 

celebrates his twenty-four sons who wore RIQUE AVEC L'ANGLOIS, vers 1'onzierae 

gold chains, and were all killed in battles sidcle," &c. 

against the Saxons. * [Armorica was the north-west corner 

[Eight of the Elegies of Llywarc Hen, of Gaul, included between the Loire, the 

or Llywarc the Aged, were selected and Seine, and the Atlantic. PARK.] 

translated by Richard Thomas, A. B. of m See Camd. Brit. i. 44. edit. 1723. 

Jesus College, Oxford; but these transla- Lhuyd's Arch. p. 253. [It did not en- 

tions being more distinguished by their tirely cease to be spoken till of late years, 

elegance than fidelity, the learned Mr. as may be gathered from an account of the 

Owen produced a literal version of the death of an old Cornish woman, in the 

Heroic Elegies, and other pieces of this Gentleman's Magazine for 1785. PARK.] 


mentioned about Wales, of its connexion with Armorica, we perceive 
the solution of a difficulty, which at first sight appears extremely pro- 
blematical: I mean, not only that Wales should have been so constantly 
made the theatre of the old British chivalry, but that so many of the 
favourite fictions which occur in the early French romances, should 
also be literally found in the tales and chronicles of the elder Welsh 
bards n . It was owing to the perpetual communication kept up between 
the Welsh and the people of Armorica, who abounded in these fictions, 
and who naturally took occasion to interweave them into the history of 
their friends and allies. Nor are we now at a loss to give the reason 
why Cornwall, in the same French romances, is made the scene and the 
subject of so many romantic adventures . In the mean time we may 
observe, (what indeed has been already implied,) that a strict intercourse 
was upheld between Cornwall and Wales. Their languages, customs, 
and alliances, as I have hinted, were the same; and they were separated 
only by a strait of inconsiderable breadth. Cornwall is frequently 
styled West- Wales , by the British writers. At the invasion of the 
Saxons, both countries became indiscriminately the receptacle of the 
fugitive Britons*. We find the Welsh and Cornish, as one people, 
often uniting themselves as in a national cause against the Saxons. 
They were frequently subject to the same prince P, who sometimes re- 
sided in Whales, and sometimes in Cornwall ; and the kings or dukes of 
Cornwall were perpetually sung by the Welsh bards. Llygad Gwr, a 
Welsh bard, in his sublime and spirited ode to Llwellyn, son of Grun- 
fludd, the last prince of Wales of the British line, has a wish, "May the 
prints of the hoofs of my prince's steed be seen as far as CORNWALL**." 
Traditions about king Arthur, to mention no more instances, are as 
popular in Cornwall as in Wales; and most of the romantic castles, 

n The story of LE COURT MANTEL, or more probably the "Pays de Cornuaille " 

the BOY AND THE MANTLE, told by an in France, a name formerly given to a part 

old French troubadour cited by M. de of Bretagne. DOUCE.] 

Sainte Palaye, is recorded in many manu- * [The chronicle of the Abbey of Mont 

script Welsh chronicles, as I learn from St. Michael, gives the year 513 as the pe- 

original letters of Lhuydin the Ashmolean riod of the flight into Bretagne: Anno 

Museum. See Mem. Anc. Chev. i. 119. 513 venerunt transmarini Britanni in Ar- 

And Obs. Spenser, i. ii. p. 54. 55. And moricam, id est minorem Britanniam. The 

from the same authority I am informed, ancient Saxon poet (apud Duchesne Hist, 

that the fiction of the giant's coat com- Franc. Script. 2. p. 148.) also peoples Bre- 

posed of the beards of the kings whom he tagne after the Saxon conquest. TUR- 

had conquered, is related in the legends NER.] 

of the bards of both countries. See Obs. p Who was sometimes chosen from 

Spens, ut supr. p. 24. seq. But instances Wales and Cornwall, and sometimes from 

are innumerable. ARMORICA. Borlase, ubi supr. p. 403. 

Hence in the Armorican tales just See also p. 375. 377. 393. And Concil. 

quoted, mention is made of Totness and Spelman. torn. i. 9. 112. edit. 1639. fol. 

Exeter, anciently included in Cornwall. Stillingfleet's Orig. Brit. ch. 5. p. 344. seq. 

In Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose we edit. 1688. fol. From CORNUWALLIA, 

have " Hornpipis of Cornewaile," among used by the Latin monkish historians, 

a great variety of musical instruments, came the present name Cornwall. Bor- 

v. 4250. This is literally from the French lase, ibid. p. 325. 

original, v. 3991. [The Cornwall men- q Evans, p. 43. 
tioned in the Romance of the Rose was 



rocks, rivers, and caves of both nations, are alike at this day distin- 
guished by some noble achievement, at least by the name, of that cele- 
brated champion. But to return. 

About the year 1100, Walter, archdeacon of Oxford, a learned man, 
and a diligent collector of histories, travelling through France, procured 
in Armorica an antient chronicle written in the British or Armorican 
language, entitled, BRUT-Y-BRENHINEJ>, or THE HISTORY OF THE 
KINGS OF BRITAIN^ This book he brought into England, and com- 
municated it to Geoffrey of Monmouth, a Welsh Benedictine monk, 
an elegant writer of Latin, and admirably skilled in the British tongue. 
Geoffrey, at the request and recommendation of Walter, the archdea- 
con, translated this British chronicle into Latin 8 , executing the transla- 
tion with a tolerable degree of purity and great fidelity, yet* not without 

* In the curious library of the family of 
Davies at Llanerk in Denbighshire, there 
is a copy of this chronicle in the hand- 
writing of Guttyn Owen, a celebrated 
Welsh bard and antiquarian about the 
year 1470, who ascribes it to Tyssilio a 
bishop, and the son of Brockmael-Yscyth- 
roc prince of Powis. Tyssilio indeed 
wrote a HISTORY OF BRITAIN; but that 
work, as we are assured by Lhuyd in the 
Archaeologia, was entirely ecclesiastical, 
and has been long since lost. 

[The Brut of Tyssilio was published in 
the second volume of the Welsh Archaeo- 
logy. A translation by the Rev. P. Roberts 
has since appeared [1811] under the title 
of A Chronicle of the British Kings. The 
first book of Guttyn Owain's copy being 
much more ample in its details than the 
other MSS., was incorporated by Mr. Ro- 
berts in his volume. The remaining 
books appear to contain no material varia- 
tions. PRICE.] 

[From a critical comparison of the Welsh 
texts, as translated by Mr. Roberts, with 
the Latin of Geoffrey, there does not re- 
main the slightest doubt in my mind, that 
the former were all taken from the latter, 
and are much more recent. M.] 

8 See Galfr. Mon. L. i. c. 1. xii. 1. 20. 
ix. 2. Bale, ii. 65. Thompson's Pref. 
to Geoffrey's Hist. Transl. edit. Lond. 
1718. p. xxx. xvi. 

* Geoffrey confesses, that he took some 
part of his account of king Arthur's 
achievements from the mouth of his friend 
Walter, the archdeacon; who probably 
related to the translator some of the tra- 
ditions on this subject which he had heard 
in Armorica, or which at that time might 
have been popular in Wales. Hist. Brit. 
Galfr. Mon. lib. xi. c. i. He also owns 
that Merlin's prophecies were not in the 
Armorican original. Ib. vii. 2. Compare 
Thompson's Pref. ut supr. p. xxv. xxvii. 

The speeches and letters were forged by 
Geoffrey ; and in the description of battles 
our translator has not scrupled frequent 
variations and additions. 

I am obliged to an ingenious antiqua- 
rian in British literature, Mr. Morris of 
Penbryn, for the following curious remarks 
concerning Geoffrey's original and his 
translation. " Geoffrey's SYLVIUS, in the 
British original, is SILIUS, which in Latin 
would make J ULIUS. This illustrates and 
confirms Lambarde's BRUTUS JULIUS. 
Peramb. Kent, p. 12. See also in the Bri- 
tish bards. And hence Milton's objection 
is removed. Hist. Engl. p. 12. There 
the British book. See Usher's Primord. 
p. 57. Dubl. edit. There are very few 
speeches in the original, and those very 
short. Geoffrey's FULGENIUS is in the 
British copy SULIEN, which by analogy 
in Latin would be JULIANUS. See Mil- 
ton's Hist. Eng. p. 100. There is no LEIL 
in the British ; that king's name was 
LLEON. Geoffrey's CAERLISLE is in the 
British CAER LLEON, or West-Chester. In 
the British, LLAW AP CYNFARCH should 
have been translated LEO, which is now 
rendered LOTH. This has brought much 
confusion into the old Scotch history. I 
find no BELINUS in the British copy ; the 
name is BELI, which should have been in 
Latin BELIUS, or BELGIUS. Geoffrey's 
BRENNUS in the original is BRAN, a com- 
mon name among the Britons ; as BRAN 
AP DYFNWAL, &c. See Suidas's JSprjv. 
It appears by the original, that the British 
name of CARAUSIUS was CARAWN ; hence 
TREGARAUN, i. e. TREGARON, and the 
river CAR AUN, which gives name to ABER- 
CORN. In the British there is no division 
into books and chapters, a mark of anti- 
quity. Those whom the translator calls 
CONSULS of Rome when Brennus took 
it, are in the original TWYSOGION, i. e. 



some interpolations. It was probably finished after the year 1138 U 

It is difficult to ascertain exactly the period at which our translator's 
original romance may probably be supposed to have been compiled. 
Yet this is a curious speculation, and will illustrate our argument. I 
am inclined to think that the work consists of fables thrown out by dif- 
ferent rhapsodists at different times, which afterwards were collected 
and digested into an entire history, and perhaps with new decorations 
of fancy added by the compiler, who most probably was one of the 
professed bards, or rather a poetical historian, of Armorica or Basse- 
Bretagne. In this state, and under this form, I suppose it to have fallen 
into the hands of Geoffrey of Monmouth. If the hypothesis hereafter 
advanced concerning the particular species of fiction on which this 
narrative is founded, should be granted, it cannot, from what I have 
already proved, be more antient than the eighth century : and we may 
reasonably conclude, that it was composed much later, as some con- 
siderable length of time must have been necessary for the propagation 
and establishment of that species of fiction. The simple subject of this 

princes or generals. The Gwalenses, 
GWALO, or GWALAS, are added by Geof- 
frey, B. xii. c. 19." To what is here ob- 
served about SILIUS, I will add, that ab- 
bot Whethamsted, in his MS. Granarium, 
mentions SILOIUS the father of Brutus. 
" Quomodo Brutus SILOII filius ad litora 
Anglise venit," &c. Granar. Part i. Lit. 
A. MSS. Cotton. Nero, C. vi. Brit. Mus. 
This gentleman has in his possession a 
very antient manuscript of the original, 
and has been many years preparing ma- 
terials for giving an accurate and faithful 
translation of it into English. The manu- 
script in Jesus College library at Oxford 
which Wynne pretends to be the same 
which Geoffrey himself made use of, is 
evidently not older than the sixteenth 
century. [Certainly an error ; the manu- 
script cannot be later than the middle of the 
fourteenth. M.] Mr. Price, the Bodleian 
librarian, to whose friendship this work is 
much indebted, has two copies lately given 
him by Mr. Banks, much more antient and 
perfect. But there is reason to suspect, 
that most of the British manuscripts of this 
history are translations from Geoffrey's 
Latin : for Britannia they have BRYT- 
TAEN, which in the original would have 
beenPRYDAiN. Geoffrey's translation, and 
for obvious reasons, is a very common ma- 
nuscript. Compare Lhuyd's Arch. p. 265. 
u Thompson says, 1128. ubi supr. p. xxx. 
Geoffrey's age is ascertained beyond a 
doubt, even if other proofs were wanting, 
from the contemporaries whom he men- 
tions. Such as Robert earl of Glocester, 
natural son of Henry the First, and Alex- 
ander bishop of Lincoln, his patrons : he 

mentions also William of Malmesbury, and 
Henry of Huntingdon. Wharton places 
Geoffrey's death in the year 1154. Episc. 
Assav. p. 306. Robert de Monte, who 
continued Sigebert's chronicle down to the 
year 1183, in the preface to that work ex- 
pressly says, that he took some of the ma- 
terials of his supplement from the HISTO- 
RIA BRITONUM, lately translated out of 
British into Latin. This was manifestly 
Geoffrey's book. Alfred of Beverly, who 
evidently wrote his Annales, published 
by Hearne, between the years 1148 and 
11 50 [in the year 11 29. TURNER.], bor- 
rowed his account of the British kings 
from Geoffrey's Historia, whose words 
he sometimes literally transcribes. For 
instance, Alfred, in speaking of Arthur's 
keeping Whitsuntide at Caerleon, says, 
that the Historia Britonum enumerated 
all the kings who came thither on Arthur's 
invitation ; and then adds, " Prseter hos 
non remansit princeps alicujus pretii citra 
Hispaniam qui ad istud edictum non ve- 
nerit." Alured. Bev. Annal. p. 63. edit. 
Hearne. These are Geoffrey's own words ; 
and so much his own, that they are one 
of his additions to the British original. 
But the curious reader, who desires a com- 
plete and critical discussion of this point, 
may consult an original letter of bishop 
Lloyd, preserved among Tanner's manu- 
scripts at Oxford, num. 94, 

[This letter was printed in Gutch's 
Collectanea Curiosa, and in Owen's Bri- 
tish Remains, and affords little information 
worthy of notice. DOUCE.] 

* [See Mr. Turner's History of En- 
gland, i. p. 457. PRICE.] 


chronicle, divested of its romantic embellishments, is a deduction of the 
Welsh princes from the Trojan Brutus to Cadwallader, who reigned in 
the seventh century v . It must be acknowledged, that many European 
nations were antiently fond of tracing their descent from Troy. Hun- 
nibaldus Francus, in his Latin history of France, written in the sixth 
century, beginning with the Trojan war, and ending with Clovis the 
First, ascribes the origin of the French nation to Francio, a son of 
Priam w . So universal was this humour, and carried to such an absurd 
excess of extravagance, that under the reign of Justinian, even the 
Greeks were ambitious of being thought to be descended from the Tro- 
jans, their antient and notorious enemies. Unless we adopt the idea of 
those antiquaries, who contend that Europe was peopled from Phrygia, 
it will be hard to discover at what period, or from what source, so strange 
and improbable a notion could take its rise, especially among nations 
unacquainted with history, and overwhelmed in ignorance. The most 
rational mode of accounting for it, is to suppose, that the revival of Vir- 
gil's ^Eneid about the sixth or seventh century, which represented the 
Trojans as the founders of Rome, the capital of the supreme pontiff, 
and a city on various other accounts, in the early ages of Christianity, 
highly reverenced and distinguished, occasioned an emulation in many 
other European nations of claiming an alliance to the same respectable 
original. The monks and other ecclesiastics, the only readers and writers 
of the age, were likely to broach, and were interested in propagating, 
such an opinion. As the more barbarous countries of Europe began to 
be tinctured with literature, there was hardly one of them but fell into 
the fashion of deducing its original from some of the nations most cele- 
brated in the antient books. Tfrose who did not aspire so high as king 
Priam, or who found that claim pre-occupied, boasted to be descended 
from some of the generals of Alexander the Great, from Prusias king 
of Bithynia, from the Greeks or the Egyptians. It is not in the mean 
time quite improbable, that as most of the European nations were pro- 
vincial to the Romans, those who fancied themselves to be of Trojan 
extraction might have imbibed this notion, at least have acquired a 
general knowledge of the Trojan story, from their conquerors; more 
especially the Britons, who continued so long under the yoke of Rome*. 
But as to the story of Brutus in particular, Geoffrey's hero, it may be 
presumed that his legend was not contrived, nor the history of his suc- 

v This notion of their extraction from them to boast no more of their relation to 

the Trojans had so infatuated the Welsh, the conquered and fugitive Trojans, but 

that even so late as the year 1284, arch- to glory in the victorious cross of Christ, 

bishop Peckham, in his injunctions to the Condi. Wilkins, torn. ii. p. 106. edit. 1737. 

diocese of St. Asaph, orders the people to fol. 

abstain from giving credit to idle dreams w It is among the Scriptores Rer. Ger- 

and visions, a superstition which they had man. Sim. Schard. torn. i. p. 301. edit, 

contracted from their belief in the dream Basil. 1574. fol. It consists of eighteen 

of their founder Brutus, in the temple of books. 

Diana, concerning his arrival in Britain, * See infr. Sect. iii. p. 131. 
The archbishop very seriously advises 


cessors invented, till after the ninth century : for Nennius, who lived 
about the middle of that century, not only speaks of Brutus with great 
obscurity and inconsistency, but seems totally uninformed as to every 
circumstance of the British affairs which preceded Caesar's invasion. 
There are other proofs that this piece could not have existed before 
the ninth century. Alfred's Saxon translation of the Mercian law is 
mentioned x , and Charlemagne's Twelve Peers, by an anachronism not 
uncommon in romance, are said to be present at king Arthur's magni- 
ficent coronation in the city of Caerleony. It were easy to produce 
instances, that this chronicle was undoubtedly framed after the legend 
of Saint Ursula, the acts of Saint Lucius, and the historical writings of 
the venerable Bede had undergone some degree of circulation in the 
world. At the same time it contains many passages which incline us 
to determine, that some parts of it at least were written after or about 
the eleventh century. I will not insist on that passage, in which the 
title of legate of the apostolic see is attributed to Dubricius in the cha- 
racter of primate of Britain ; as it appears for obvious reasons to have 
been an artful interpolation of the translator, who was an ecclesiastic. 
But I will select other arguments. Canute's forest, or Cannock-wood 
in Staffordshire occurs; and Canute died in the year 1036 Z . At the 
ideal coronation of king Arthur just mentioned, a tournament is de- 
scribed as exhibited in its highest splendor. "Many knights," says our 
Armoric fabler, " famous for feats of chivalry, were present, with appa- 
rel and arms of the same colour and fashion. They formed a species 
of diversion in imitation of a fight on horseback, and the ladies being 
placed on the walls of the castles, darted amorous glances on the com- 
batants. None of these ladies esteemed any knight worthy of her love, 
but such as had given proof of his gallantry in three several encounters. 
Thus the valour of the men encouraged chastity in the women, and the 
attention of the women proved an incentive to the soldier's bravery a ." 
Here is the practice of chivalry under the combined ideas of love and 
military prowess, as they seem to have subsisted after the feudal consti- 
tution had acquired greater degrees not only of stability but of splen- 
dor and refinement 15 . And although a species of tournament was ex- 
hibited in France at the reconciliation of the sons of Lewis the Feeble, 
in the close of the ninth century, and at the beginning of the tenth, the 
coronation of the emperor Henry was solemnized with martial enter- 
tainments, in which many parties were introduced fighting on horse- 
back ; yet it was long afterwards that these games were accompanied 
with the peculiar formalities, and ceremonious usages, here described . 

x L. iii. c. 13. y L. ix. c. 12. et rebus gestis ejus. Lib. i. De Mensa 

* L. vii. c. 4. a L. ix. c. 12. rotunda et STRENUIS EQUITIBUS. Lib. i. 

b Pitts mentions an anonymous writer See Pitts, p. 122. Bale, x. 21. Usser. 

under the name of EREMITABRITANNUS, Primord. p. 17. This subject could not 

who studied history and astronomy, and have been treated by so early a writer. 

flourished about the year 720. He wrote, ["Why so," says Mr. Ashby, " if Arthur 

besides, a book in an unknown language, reigned in 506 ?" PARK.] 

entitled, Sanctum Graal, De Rege Arthuro c See infr. Sect. iii. p. 1 13. and Sect. xii. 


In the mean time, we cannot answer for the innovations of a translator 
in such a description. The burial of Hengist, the Saxon chief, who is 
said to have been interred not after the pagan fashion, as Geoffrey ren- 
ders the words of the original, but after the manner of the SOLDANS *, 
is partly an argument that our romance was composed about the time 
of the crusades. It was not till those memorable campaigns of mis- 
taken devotion had infatuated the western world, that the soldans or 
sultans of Babylon, of Egypt, of Iconium, and other eastern kingdoms, 
became familiar in Europe. Not that the notion of this piece being 
written so late as the crusades in the least invalidates the doctrine de- 
livered in this discourse. Not even if we suppose that Geoffrey of 
Monmouth was its original composer. That notion rather tends to 
confirm and establish my system. On the whole we may venture to 
affirm, that this chronicle, supposed to contain the ideas of the Welsh 
bards, entirely consists of Arabian inventions. And in this view, no 
difference is made whether it was compiled about the tenth century, at 
which time, if not before, the Arabians from their settlement in Spain 
must have communicated their romantic fables to other parts of Europe, 
especially to the French ; or whether it first appeared in the eleventh 
century, after the crusades had multiplied these fables to an excessive 
degree, and made them universally popular. And although the gene- 
ral cast of the inventions contained in this romance is alone sufficient 
to point out the source from whence they were derived, yet I choose 
to prove to a demonstration what is here advanced, by producing and 
examining some particular passages. 

The books of the Arabians and Persians abound with extravagant 
traditions about the giants Gog and Magog. These they call Jagiouge 
and Magiouge ; and the Caucasian wall, said to be built by Alexander 
the Great from the Caspian to the Black Sea, in order to cover the 
frontiers of his dominion, and to prevent the incursions of the Scy- 

in the account of Boccacio's Theseid, and Arabian book entitled, " Scirat al Mogiah- 
the Greco-barbarous poem DeNuptiis The- edir," i. e. "The Eaves of the most valiant 
sei et Emiliae, vol. ii. I will here produce, Champions." Num. 1079. 
from that learned orientalist M.D'Herbe- * [It is not easy to conjecture whence 
lot, some curious traits of Arabian knight- Warton derived this singular statement, 
errantry, which the reader may apply to The words of Geoffrey, when speaking of 
the principles of this Dissertation as he Hengist's burial, are : "At Aurelius, ut 
pleases. erat in cunctis rebus modestus, jussit eum 
" BATTHALL. Une homme hardi et sepeliri, et cumulum terras super corpus 
vaillant, qui cherche des avantures tels ejus, pagano more, apponi," lib. viii. c. 7. ; 
qu'etoient les chevaliers errans de nos an- and the passage is literally so translated 
ciens Romans." He adds, that Batthall, by Wace, La3amon, and Robert of Brunne. 
an Arabian, who lived about the year of Warton refers toGeoffrey's original, as con- 
Christ 740, was a warrior of this class, fidently as if such an acknowledged text 
concerning whom many marvellous feats were actually in existence, when in reali- 
of arms are reported : that his life was ty we have nothing but the recent Welsh 
written in a large volume, " mais qu'elle versions of Geoffrey's Latin history, with 
est toute remplie ft exaggerations et de which in the above passage they perfectly 
menterics." Bibl. Oriental, p. 193 a. b. agree. M.] 
In the royal library at Paris, there is an 



thians d , is called by the orientals the WALL of GOG and MAGOG e . 
One of the most formidable giants, according to our Armorican 
romance, which opposed the landing of Brutus in Britain, was Goema- 
got. He was twelve cubits high, and would unroot an oak as easily 

d Compare M. Petit de la Croix, Hist. 
Genghizcan, 1. iv. c. 9. 

e Herbelot, Bibl. Oriental, p. 157. 291. 
318. 438. 470. 528. 795. 796. 811. &c. 
They call Tartary the land of Jagiouge 
and Magiouge. This wall, some few frag- 
ments of which still remain, they pretend 
to have been built with all sorts of metals. 
See Abulfaraj Hist. Dynast, edit. Pococke, 
p. 62. A.D. 1673. It was an old tradition 
among the Tartars, that the people of 
Jagiouge and Magiouge were perpetually 
endeavouring to make a passage through 
this fortress ; but that they would not suc- 
ceed in their attempt till the day of judg- 
ment. See Hist. Geneal. des Tartars 
d' Abulgazi Bahadut Khan, p. 43. About 
the year 808, the caliph Al Amin having 
heard wonderful reports concerning this 
wall or barrier, sent his interpreter Sa- 
lam, with a guard of fifty men, to view it. 
After a dangerous journey of near two 
months, Salam and his party arrived in a 
desolated country, where they beheld the 
ruins of many cities destroyed by the peo- 
ple of Jagiouge and Magiouge. In six 
days more they reached the castles near 
the mountain Kokaiya or Caucasus. This 
mountain is inaccessibly steep, perpetually 
covered with snows and thick clouds, and 
encompasses the country of Jagiouge and 
Magiouge, which is full of cultivated fields 
and cities. At an opening of this moun- 
tain the fortress appears: and travelling 
forwards, at the distance of two stages, 
they found another mountain, with a ditch 
cut through it one hundred and fifty cu- 
bits wide : and within the aperture an iron 
gate fifty cubits high, supported by vast 
buttresses, having an iron bulwark crown- 
ed with iron turrets, reaching to the sum- 
mit of the mountain itself, which is too 
high to be seen. The valves, lintels, 
threshold, blots, lock and key, are all re- 
presented of proportionable magnitude. 
The governor of the castle, above men- 
tioned, once in every week, mounted on 
horseback with ten others on horseback, 
comes to this gate, and striking it three 
times with a hammer weighingfive pounds, 
an d then listening, hears a murmuring noise 
from within. This noise is supposed to pro- 
ceedfromthe Jagiouge and Magiouge con- 
fined there. Salam was told that they 
often appeared on the battlements of the 
bulwark. He returned after passing twen- 
ty-eight months in this extraordinary 

expedition. See Mod. Univ. Hist. vol. 
iv. B. i. 2. p. 15, 16, 17. And Anc. 
vol. xx. pag. 23. [See Weber's note on 
Gog and Magog in his Metr. Rom. vol. iii. 
p. 321. M.] [It is by no means impro- 
bable that the mention of Gog and Magog 
in the Apocalypse gave rise to their gene- 
ral notoriety both in the East and West. 
This prophecy must have been applied to 
the Huns under Attila at a very early pe- 
riod ; for in the Anonymous Chronicle 
of Hungary, published by Schwandtner 
(Scriptor. Rer. Hungar. Tom. i.) we find 
it making a part of the national history. 
Attila is there said to be a descendant of 
Magog, the son of Japhet, (Genesis ch. x. 
ver. 2.) from whom the Hungarians are 
also called Moger. This is evidently not 
the production of the writer's own imagi- 
nation, but the simple record of a tradi* 
tion, which had obtained a currency among 
his countrymen, and which, combined with 
the subsequent history of Almus and Ar- 
pad, wears the appearance of being ex- 
tracted from some poetic narrative of the 
events. PRICE.] Pliny, speaking of the 
PORT.S: CAUCASIA, mentions, "ingens 
naturae opus,montibus interrupts repente, 
ubi fores obditaeferratis trabibus," &c. Nat. 
Hist. lib. vi. c. 2. Czar Peter the First, 
in his expedition into Persia, had the. cu- 
riosity to survey the ruins of this wall : 
and some leagues within the mountain he 
found a skirt of it which seemed entire, 
and was about fifteen feet high. In some 
other parts it is still six or seven feet in 
height. It seems at first sight to be built 
of stone: but it consists of petrified earth, 
sand, and shells, which compose a sub- 
stance of great solidity. It has been 
chiefly destroyed by the neighbouring in- 
habitants, for the sake of its materials : 
and most of the adjacent towns and vil- 
lages are built out of its ruins. Bentinck's 
Notes on Abulgazi, p. 722. Engl. edit. 
See Chardin's Travels, p. 1 76. And Struys's 
Voyage, B. iii. c. 20. p. 226. Olearius's 
Travels of the Holstein Ambassad. B. vii. 
p. 403. Geograph. Nubiens. vi. c. 9. And 
Act. Petropolit. vol. i. p. 405. By the way, 
this work probably preceded the time of 
Alexander: it does not appear, from the 
course of his victories, that he ever came 
near the Caspian gates. The first and ' 
fabulous history of the eastern nations, 
will perhaps be found to begin with the 
exploits of this Grecian hero. 


as an hazel wand : but after a most obstinate encounter with Corineus, 
he was tumbled into the sea from the summit of a steep cliff on the 
rocky shores of Cornwall, and dashed in pieces against the huge crags 
of the declivity. The place where he fell, adds our historian, taking 
its name from the giant's fall, is called LAM-GOEMAGOT, or GOEMA- 
GOT'S LEAP, to this day f . A no less monstrous giant, whom king 
Arthur slew on Saint Michael's Mount in Cornwall *, is said by this 
fabler to have come from Spain. Here the origin of these stories is 
evidently betrayed &. The Arabians, or Saracens, as I have hinted 
above, had conquered Spain, and were settled there. Arthur having 
killed this redoubted giant, declares that he had combated with none 
of equal strength and prowess, since he overcame the mighty giant 
Ritho, on the mountain Aravius, who had made himself a robe of the 
beards of the kings whom he had killed. This tale is in Spenser's 
Faerie Queene. A magician brought from Spain is called to the as- 
sistance of Edwin a prince of Northumberland 11 , educated under 
Solomon, king of the Armoricans 1 . In the prophecy of Merlin, de- 
livered to Vortigern after the battle of the dragons, forged perhaps 
by the translator Geoffrey, yet apparently in the spirit and manner of 
the rest, we have the Arabians named, and their situations in Spain 
and Africa. " From Conau shall come forth a wild boar, whose tusks 
shall destroy the oaks of the forests of France. The ARABIANS and 
AFRICANS shall dread him; and he shall continue his rapid course 
into the most distant parts of Spain V This is king Arthur. In the 
same prophecy, mention is made of the " Woods of Africa." In 
another place Gormund king of the Africans occurs 1 . In a battle 

f Lib. i. c. 16. ed in so mariy forms, and under the various 
[Mr. Roberts in his extreme zeal for titles of the St. Graal, Tristam de Leon- 
stripping the British History of all its fie- nois, Lancelot du Lac, &c., were not im- 
tions, and every romantic allusion, con- mediately borrowed from the work of 
ceives this name a fabrication from the Geoffrey of Monmouth, but from his Ar- 
mint of Geoffrey. The Welsh copies read moric originals. The St. Graal is a worlc 
Gogmagog ; yet as PonticusVirunnius, who of great antiquity, probably of the eighth 
lived in the fifteenth century, reads Goer- century. There are Welsh MSS. of it still 
magog, Mr. Roberts has " little doubt but existing, which, though not very old, were 
that the original was Cawr-Madog, i. e. the probably copied from earlier ones, and are, 
giant or great warrior" Beliagog is the it is to be presumed, more genuine copies 
name of a giant in Sir Tristram. PRICE.] of the ancient romance, than any other ex- 

* [But there is a Saint Michael's Mount tant. DOUCE.] 

in Normandy, which is called Tombelaine, h The Cumbrian and Northumbrian 
and Geoffrey of Monmouth says the place Britons, as powerful opponents of the Sax- 
was called Tumba Helense, to which the ons, were strongly allied to the Welsh and 
combat is said to have related. DOUCE.] Cornish. 

[The Norrnan Mount St. Michael is un- * Lib. xii. c. 1. 4, 5, 6. 

doubtedly the one referred to by Geoffrey. k Lib. vii. c. 3. 

See the "Histoire Pittoresque du Mont- l Lib. xii. 2. xi. 8. 10. 

Saint-Michel et de Tombelene. ParMaxi- ["Gormund," says Mr. Ritson, "in 

milien Raoul. 8vo. Par. 1833. and Le Livre authentic history was a king of the Danes 

des Legendes. Par L^ Roux de Lincy. In- who infested England in the ninth cen- 

troduction, p. 104. 8vo. Par. 1836. M.] tury, and was defeated and baptized by 

e L. x. c. 3. Alfred." Dissertation on Romance, &c. 

[It is very certain that the tales of Ar- p. 23. PARK.] 
thur and his Knights which have appear- 


Avhich Arthur fights against the Romans, some of the principal leaders 
in the Roman army are, Alifantinam king of Spain, Pandrasus king of 
Egypt, Boccus king of the Medes, Evander king of Syria, Micipsa 
king of Babylon, and a duke of Phrygia m . It is obvious to suppose 
how these countries became so familiar to the bard of our chronicle. 
The old fictions about Stonehenge were derived from the same inex- 
haustible source of extravagant imagination. We are told in this 
romance, that the giants conveyed the stones which compose this 
miraculous monument from the farthest coasts of Africa. Every one 
of these stones is supposed to be mystical, and to contain a medicinal 
virtue : an idea drawn from the medical skill of the Arabians n , and 
more particularly from the Arabian doctrine of attributing healing 
qualities, and other occult properties, to stones . Merlin's transforma- 
tion of Uther into Gorlois, and of Ulfin into Bricel, by the power of 
some medical preparation, is a species of Arabian magic, which pro- 
fessed to work the most wonderful deceptions of this kind, and is men- 
tioned at large hereafter, in tracing the inventions of Chaucer's poetry. 
The attribution of prophetical language to birds was common among 
the orientals ; and an eagle is supposed to speak at building the walls 
of the city of Paladur, now Shaftesbury p . The Arabians cultivated 
the study of philosophy, particularly astronomy, with amazing ardour^. 
Hence arose the tradition, reported by our historian, that in king Ar- 
thur's reign, there subsisted at Caer-leon in Glamorganshire a college 
of two hundred philosophers, who studied astronomy and other sciences ; 
and who were particularly employed in watching the courses of the 
stars, and predicting events to the king from their observations 1 ". Ed- 
win's Spanish magician above mentioned, by his knowledge of the flight 
of birds, and the courses of the stars, is said to foretell future disasters. 
In the same strain Merlin prognosticates Uther's success in battle by 
the appearance of a comet 8 . The same enchanter's wonderful skill in 
mechanical powers, by which he removes the giant's Dance, or Stone- 
henge, from Ireland into England, and the notion that this stupendous 
THE MECHANICAL ARTS, are founded on the Arabic literature*. To 

m Lib. x. c. 5. 8. 10. .* three hundred British nobles massacred 

n See infr. p. 9. And vol.ii. Sect. xiii. by the Saxon Hengist. See Sect. ii. infr. 

Note on the description of RICHESSE in pp. 50, 51. No DRUIDICAL monument, 

the Romaunt of the Rose. of which so many remains were common, 

This chronicle was evidently compiled engaged their attention or interested them 

to do honour to the Britons and their af- so much, as this NATIONAL memorial ap- 

fairs, and especially in opposition to the pears to have done. 

Saxons. Now the importance with which p Lib. ii. c. 9. See vol. ii. Sect. xv. 

these romancers seem to speak of Stone- on the Squier's Tale. 

henge, and the many beautiful fictions q See Diss. ii. And vol. ii. Sect. xv. near 

with which they have been so studious to the end. 

embellish its origin, and to aggrandise its r Lib. viii. c. 15. 

history, appear to me strongly to favour * Lib. ix. c. 12. 

the hypothesis, that Stonehenge is a Bri- * Lib. viii. c. 10. See vol. ii. Sect. xv. 

tish monument ; and indeed to prove, that passim. 

it was really erected in memory of the 



which we may add king Bladud's magical operations". Dragons are a 
sure mark of orientalism*. One of these in our romance is a "terrible 
dragon flying from the west, breathing fire, and illuminating all the 
country with the brightness of his eyes v ." In another place we have a 
giant mounted on a winged dragon : the dragon erects his scaly tail, 
and wafts his rider to the clouds with great rapidity w . 

Arthur and Charlemagne are the first and original heroes of ro- 
mance. And as Geoffrey's history is the grand repository of the acts 
of Arthur, so a fabulous history ascribed to Turpin is the ground- 
work of all the chimerical legends which have been related concern- 
ing the conquests of Charlemagne and his twelve peers f. Its subject 
is the expulsion of the Saracens from Spain: and it is filled with 
fictions evidently congenial with those which characterise Geoffrey's 

Some suppose, as I have hinted above, this romance to have been 
written by Turpin, a monk of the eighth century ; who, for his know- 
ledge of the Latin language, his sanctity, and gallant exploits against 
the Spanish Saracens, was preferred to the archbishoprick of Rheims 
by Charlemagne. Others believe it to have been forged under arch- 

u Lib. ii. c. 10. 

* [The stability of Mr. Warton's asser- 
tion has been shaken by Sir Walter Scott, 
who states that the idea of this fabulous 
animal was familiar to the Celtic tribes at 
an early period, and was borne on the 
banner of Pendragon, who from that cir- 
cumstance derived his name. A dragon 
was also the standard of the renowned 
Arthur. A description of this banner, the 
magical work of Merlin, occurs in the ro- 
mance of Arthur and Merlin in the Au- 
chinleck MS. 

Merlin bar her gonfanoun ; 
Upon the top stode a dragoun, 
Swithe griseliche a lilel croune, 
Fast him biheld al tho in the toune, 
For the mouth he had grinninge 
And the tong out flatlinge 
That out kest sparkes of fer, 
Into the skies that flowen cler ; &c. 

In the Welsh triads (adds the same au- 
thority) I find the dragon repeatedly men- 
tioned : and in a battle fought at Bedford, 
about 752, betwixt Ethelbald king of 
Mercia, and Cuthred king of Wessex, a 
golden dragon, the banner of the latter, was 
borne in the front of the combat by Edel- 
heim or Edelhun, a chief of the West 
Saxons. Notes on Sir Tristram, p. 290. 

[Among the Celtic tribes, as among the 
Finns and Sclavonians, the serpent ap- 
pears to have been held in sacred estima- 
tion ; and the early traditions of the North 

abound in fables relative to dragons who 
lay slumbering upon the golden "hoard" 
by day, and wandered through the air 
by night. But as the heroes of North- 
ern adventure are usually engaged in ex- 
tirpating this imaginary race, it is not 
improbable that some of these narratives 
may have been founded on the conflicts 
between the Finnish and Scandinavian 
priesthoods. PRICE.] 

v Lib. x. c. 2. 

w Lib. vii. c. 4. 

f- ["But this," says Ritson, "requires 
it to have been written before the year 
1066, when the adventures and exploits 
of Charlemagne, Rowland and Oliver were 
chaunted at the battle of Hastings; where- 
as there is strong internal proof that this 
romance was written long after the time 
of Charlemagne." Dissert, on Rom. and 
Minst. p. 47. PARK.] 

* I will mention only one among many 
others. The Christians under Charlemagne 
are said to have found in Spain a golden 
idol, or image of Mahomet, as high as a 
bird can fly. It was framed by Mahomet 
himself of the purest metal, who by his 
knowledge in necromancy had sealed up 
within it a legion of diabolical spirits. It 
held in its hand a prodigious club ; and 
the Saracens had a prophetic tradition, 
that this club should fall from the hand of 
the image in that year when a certain 
king should be born in France, &c. J. 
Turpini Hist, de Vit. Carol. Magn. et Ro- 
landi, cap. iv. f. 2. a. 


bishop Turpin's name * about that time. Others very soon afterwards, 
in the reign of Charles the Bald". That is, about the year 870". 

Voltaire, a writer of much deeper research than is imagined, and the 
first who has displayed the literature and customs of the dark ages 
with any degree of penetration and comprehension, speaking of the 
fictitious tales concerning Charlemagne, has remarked, " Ces fables 
qu'un moine ecrivit au onzieme siecle, sous le nom de 1'archeveque 
Turpin z ." And it might easily be shown that just before the com- 
mencement of the thirteenth century, romantic stories about Charle- 
magne were more fashionable than ever among the French minstrels. 
That is, on the recent publication of this fabulous history of Charle- 
magne. Historical evidence concurs with numerous internal argu- 
ments to prove, that it must have been compiled after the crusades. 
In the twentieth chapter, a pretended pilgrimage of Charlemagne to 
the holy sepulchre at Jerusalem is recorded : a forgery seemingly 
contrived with a design to give an importance to those wild expeditions, 
and which would easily be believed when thus authenticated by an 

There is another strong internal proof that this romance was written 
long after the time of Charlemagne. Our historian is speaking of the 
numerous chiefs and kings who came with their armies to assist his 
hero : among the rest he mentions earl Oell, and adds, " Of this man 
there is a song commonly sung among the minstrels even to this day b ." 
Nor will I believe, that the European art of war, in the eighth century, 
could bring into the field such a prodigious parade of battering rams 
and wooden castles, as those with which Charlemagne is said to have 
besieged the city Agennum c : the crusades seem to have made these 

* ["Whose true name," says Ritson, relate to Oel. The romance of Ogier Da- 
"was Tilpin, and who died before Charle- nois, originally written in rhyme, is here 
magne; though Robert Gaguin, in his probably referred to. DOUCE.] [The 
licentious translation of the work, 1527, language of Turpin seems rather to imply 
makes him relate his own death. Another a ballad or song on the achievements of 
pretended version of this Pseudo- Turpin, this hero, such as is still to be found in the 
said to have been made by one Mickius or Danish Kjempe Viser. The name, how- 
Michael le Harnes, who lived in 1206, has ever written, Oger, Ogier, Odiger, Hoi- 
little or nothing in common with its false ger, clearly refers to Helgi, a hero of the 
original." Diss. on Rom. and Minst. p. 46. Edda and the Volsunga-Saga. In the 
PARK..] earlier traditions the theatre of his actions 

* See Hist. Acad. des Inscript. &c. vii. is confined to Denmark and the neigh- 
293. edit. 4to. bouring countries ; but the later fictions 

y See Catel, Mem. de 1'Hist. du Lan- embellish his career with all the marvels 

guedoc, p. 545. of romance ; and after leading him as a 

* Hist. Gen. ch. viii. CEuvr. tom.i. p. 84. conqueror over the greater part of Europe 
edit. Genev. 1756. and Asia, transport him to the isle of Ava- 

3 See infr. p. 128. Ion, where he still resides with Morgan la 

b " De hoc canitur in cantilena usque ad faye. PRICE.] 

hodiernum diem." cap. xi. f.4.b. edit.Schard. c Ibid. cap. ix. f. 3. b. The writer adds, 

Francof. 1566. fol. Chronograph. Quat. " Cseterisque artificiis ad capiendum," &c. 

[In the best MSS. of Turpin, the above See also cap. x. ibid. Compare Sect. iv. 

passage refers to Oger king of Denmark, infr. p. 162. In one of Charlemagne's 

whose name is omitted in that followed battles, the Saracens advance with hor- 

by the editor of Turpin's history here ci- rible visors bearded and horned, and with 

ted. There is no work that is known to drums or cymbals. " Tenentesque sin- 


huge military machines common in the European armies. However, 
\ve may suspect it appeared before, yet not long before, Geoffrey's ro- 
mance ; who mentions Charlemagne's TWELVE PEERS, so lavishly ce- 
lebrated in Turpin's book, as present at King Arthur's imaginary coro- 
nation at Caer-leon. Although the twelve peers of France occur in 
chronicles of the tenth century d ; and they might besides have been 
suggested to Geoffrey's original author from popular traditions and 
songs of minstrels. We are sure it was extant before the year 1122 ; 
for Calixtus the Second in that year, by papal authority, pronounced 
this history to be genuine 6 . Monsieur Allard affirms that it was writ- 
ten, and in the eleventh century, at Vienne by a monk of Saint An- 
drew's f . This monk was probably nothing more than some Latin 
translator : but a learned French antiquary is of opinion, that it was 
originally composed in Latin ; and moreover, that the most antient 
romances, even those of the Round Table, were originally written 
in that language g . Oienhart, and with the greatest probability, sup- 
poses it to be the work of a Spaniard. He quotes an authentic ma- 
nuscript to prove that it was brought out of Spain into France be- 
fore the close of the twelfth century h ; and that the miraculous ex- 
ploits performed in Spain by Charlemagne and earl Roland, recorded 
in this romantic history, were unknown among the French before that 
period : except only that some few of them were obscurely and imper- 
fectly sketched in the metrical tales of those who sung heroic adven- 
tures 1 . Oienhart's supposition that this history was compiled in Spain, 
the centre of oriental fabling in Europe, at once accounts for the 
nature and extravagance of its fictions, and immediately points to their 
Arabian origin 1 "'. As to the French manuscript of this history, it is a 

guli TYMPANA, quse manibus fortiter per- sung at the battle of Hastings. But see 

cutiebant." The unusual spectacle and this romance, cap. xx. f. 8. b. where Tur- 

sound terrified the horses of the Christian pin seems to refer to some other fabulous 

army, and threw them into confusion. In materials or history concerning Charle- 

a second engagement, Charlemagne com- magne. Particularly about Galafar and 

inanded the eyes of the horses to be co- Braiamant, which make such a figure in 

vered, and their ears to be stopped. Tur- Boyardo and Ariosto. 

pin, cap. xviii. f. 7. b. The latter expe- k Innumerable romantic stories, of Ara- 

dient is copied in the Romance of Richard bian growth, are to this day current among 

the First, written about the eleventh the common people of Spain, which 

century. [About the year 1300. M.] they call CUJENTOS DE VIEJAS. I will 

See Sect. iv. infr. p. 163. See also what relate one from that lively picture of 

is said of the Saracen drums, ibid. p. the Spaniards, Relation du Voyage d'E- 

169. spagne, by Mademoiselle Dunois. Within 

d Flodoard of Rheims first mentions the antient castle of Toledo, they say, 

them, whose chronicle comes down to there was a vast cavern, whose entrance 

966. was strongly barricadoed. It was uni- 

e Magn. Chron. Belgic. pag. 150. sub versally believed, that if any person en- 

ann. Compare J. Long. Bibl. Hist. Gall. tered this cavern, the most fatal disasters 

num. 6671. And Lambec. ii. p. 333. would happen to the Spaniards. Thus it 

f Bibl. de Dauphine, p. 224. remained closely shut and unentered for 

B See vol. ii. p. 221. Note 3 . many ages. At length king Roderigo, 

h See infr. p. 138. having less credulity but more courage and 

1 Arnoldi Oienharti Notit. utriusque curiosity than his ancestors, commanded 

Vasconiae, edit. Paris, 1638. 4to. page 397. this formidable recess to be opened. At 

lib. iii. c. 3. Such was Roland's song, entering, he began to suspect the traditions 

VOL. T. I 


translation from Turpin's Latin, made by Michael le Harnes in the 
year 1207 1 . And, by the way, from the translator's declaration, that 
there was a great impropriety in translating Latin prose into verse, we 
may conclude, that at the commencement of the thirteenth century the 
French generally made their translations into verse. 

In these two fabulous chronicles the foundations of romance seem to 
be laid. The principal characters, the leading subjects, and the funda- 
mental fictions, which have supplied such ample matter to this singular 
species of composition, are here first displayed. Arid although the long 
continuance of the crusades imported innumerable inventions of a si- 
milar complexion, and substituted the achievements of new champions 
and the wonders of other countries, yet the tales of Arthur and of 
Charlemagne, diversified indeed, or enlarged with additional embellish- 
ments, still continued to prevail, and to be the favourite topics : and 
this, partly from their early popularity, partly from the quantity and 
the beauty of the fictions with which they were at first supported, and 
especially because the design of the crusades had made those subjects 
so fashionable in which Christians fought with infidels. In a word, these 
volumes are the first specimens extant in this mode of writing. No 
European history before these has mentioned giants, enchanters, dragons, 
and the like monstrous and arbitrary fictions. And the reason is ob- 
vious : they were written at a time when a new and unnatural mode of 
thinking took place in Europe, introduced by our communication with 
the east. 

Hitherto I have considered the Saracens, either at their immigration 
into Spain about the ninth century, or at the time of the crusades, as 
the first authors of romantic fabling among the Europeans. But a 
late ingenious critic has advanced an hypothesis, which assigns a new 
source, and a much earlier date, to these fictions. I will cite his opi- 
nion of this matter in his own words. " Our old romances of chivalry 

of the people to be true: a terrible tempest l See Du Chesne, torn. v. p. 60. And 
arose, and all the elements seemed united Mem. Lit. xvii. 737. seq. It is in the royal 
to embarrass him. Nevertheless, he ven- library at Paris, Num. 8190. Probably the 
tured forwards into the cave, where he French Turpin in the British Museum is 
discerned by the light of his torches cer- the same, Cod. MSS. Harl. 273. 23. f. 86. 
tain figures or statues of men, whose ha- See infr. p. 137. See instances of the 
biliments and arms were strange and un- English translating prose Latin books 
couth. One of them had a sword of shining into English, and sometimes French verse, 
brass, on which it was written in Arabic Sect. ii. infr. passim, 
characters, that the time approached when In the king's library at Paris, there is 
the Spanish nation should be destroyed, a translation of Dares Phrygius into French 
and that it would not be long before the rhymes by Godfrey of Waterford an Irish 
warriors, whose images were placed there, Jacobin, a writer not mentioned by Tan- 
should arrive in Spain. The writer adds, ner, in the thirteenth century. Mem. 
" Je n'ai jamais ete en aucun endroit, oii Litt. torn. xvii. p. 736. Compare Sect. iii. 
Ton fasse PLUS DE CAS des CONTES FA- infr. p. 128, Note y . [See De la Rue's 
BULEUX qu'enEspagne." Edit, a la Haye, Essais sur les Bardes, &c. torn. iii. p. 211. 
1691. torn. iii. pp. 158, 159. 12mo. See who adds, that this writer was assisted in 
infr. Sect. iii. pp. 114, 115. And the Life his translation by Gervais Copale, and re- 
of Cervantes, by Don Gregorio Mayans. fers to MS. 7856. Bibl. du Roi, for copies 
27. 47. 48. 49. of the works ascribed to them. M.] 


may be derived in a LINEAL DESCENT from the antient historical songs 
of the Gothic bards and scalds. Many of those songs are still pre- 
served in the north, which exhibit all the seeds of chivalry before it be- 
came a solemn institution. Even the common arbitrary fictions of ro- 
mance were most of them familiar to the antient scalds of the north, 
long before the time of the crusades. They believed the existence of 
giants and dwarfs, they had some notion of fairies, they were strongly 
possessed with the belief of spells and inchantment, and were fond of 
inventing combats with dragons and monsters 1 "." Monsieur Mallet, a 
very able and elegant inquirer into the genius and antiquities of the 
northern nations, maintains the same doctrine. He seems to think, that 
many of the opinions and practices of the Goths, however obsolete, still 
obscurely subsist. He adds, " May we not rank among these, for ex- 
ample, that love and admiration for the profession of arms which pre- 
vailed among our ancestors even to fanaticism, mad as it were through 
system, and brave from a point of honour ? Can we not explain from 
the Gothic religion, how judiciary combats, and proofs by the ordeal, 
to the astonishment of posterity, were admitted by the legislature of all 
Europe" ; and how, even to the present age, the people are still infatu- 
ated with a belief of the power of magicians, witches, spirits, and 
genii, concealed under the earth or in the waters? Do we not dis- 
cover in these religious opinions, that source of the marvellous with 
which our ancestors filled their romances ; in which we see dwarfs and 
giants, fairies and demons?" &c. And in another place, " The 
fortresses of the Goths were only rude castles situated on the summits 
of rocks, and rendered inaccessible by thick misshapen walls. As 
these walls ran winding round the castles, they often called them by a 
name which signified SERPENTS or DRAGONS ; and in these they 
usually secured the women and young virgins of distinction, who 
were seldom safe at a time when so many enterprising heroes were 
rambling up and down in search of adventures. It was this custom 
which gave occasion to antient romancers, who know not how to 
describe any thing simply, to invent so many fables concerning 

m Percy on Antient Metr. Rom. i. p. 3, who commanded all controversies to be de- 

4, edit. 1767. cided by the sword. Worm. p. 68. Infa- 

" For the judiciary combats, as also for vour of this barbarous institution it ought 

common athletic exercises, they formed to be remembered, that the practice of thus 

an amphitheatrical circus of rude stones. marking out the place of battle must have 

"Quaedam [saxa] CIRCOS claudebant, in prevented much bloodshed, and saved many 

quibus gigantes et pugiles DUELLO strenue innocent lives : for if either combatant was 

decertabant." Worm. p. 62. And again, by any accident forced out of the circus, he 

"Nee mora, CIRCUATUR campus, milite was to lose his cause, or to pay three marks 

CIRCUS stipatur, concurrunt pugiles." p. of pure silver as a redemption for his life. 

65. It is remarkable, that circs of the Worm. p. 68, 69. In the year 987, the 

same sort are still to be seen in Cornwall, ordeal was substituted in Denmark instead 

so famous at this day for the athletic art : of the duel ; a mode of decision, at least 

in which also they sometimes exhibited in a political sense, less absurd, as it pro- 

their scriptural interludes, vol. ii. p. 70. moted military skill. 
Frotho the Great, king of Denmark, in the Mallet, Introduction 1'Histoire de 

first century, is said to have been the first Dannemarc, &c. torn. ii. p. 9. 


princesses of great beauty guarded by dragons, and afterwards deli- 
vered by invincible champions' 1 ." 

I do not mean entirely to reject this hypothesis; but I will endea- 
vour to show how far I think it is true, and in what manner or degree 
it may be reconciled with the system delivered above. 

A few years before the birth of Christ, soon after Mithridates had 
been overthrown by Pompey, a nation of Asiatic Goths, who pos- 
sessed that regio-n of Asia which PS now called Georgia, and is con- 
nected on the south with Persia, alarmed at the progressive encroach- 
ments of the Roman armies, retired in vast multitudes under the 
conduct of their leader Odin, or Woden, into the northern parts of 
Europe, not subject to the Roman government, and settled in Den- 
mark, Norway, Sweden, and other districts of the Scandinavian 
territory' 1 . As they brought with them many useful arts, particularly 
the knowledge of letters, which Odin is said to have invented 1 ", they 
were hospitably received by the natives, and by degrees acquired a 
safe and peaceable establishment in the new country, which seems to- 
have adopted their language, laws, and' religion. Odin is said t have 
been styled a god by the Scandinavians; an appellation which the 
superior address and specious abilities of this Asiatic chief easily ex- 
torted from a more savage and uncivilised people. 

This migration is confirmed by the concurrent testimonies of 
various historians: but there is no better evidence of it, than that con- 
spicuous similarity subsisting at this day between several customs- of 

p Mallet, IntvocL ch. ix. p. 243. torn. ii. lahdicarum periti ; unde et Odinus RUN- 

[This and other similar passages in HOFDI seu Runarum (i. e. Literarum) auc- 

Mallet's lively history would form an ex- tor vocatur." OI. Worm. Liter. Runic, cap. 

eellent supplement to the Homeric alle- 20. edit. Hafn. 1651. Some writers refer 

gories of Heraclides Panticus. PRICE.] the origin of the Grecian language, sci- 

q " Unicam gentium Asiaticarurn im- ences, and religion to the Scythians, who 

migrationem, in orbem Arctoum factam, were connected towards the south with 

uostroe antiquitates commemorant. Sed Odin's Goths. I cannot bring a greater 

earn tamen non primam. Verum circa authority than that of Salmasius, " Satis 

annum tandem vicesimum quartum ante certum ex his colligi potest linguam, ut 

natum Christum, Romanis exercitibus au- gentem, HELLENICAM, a septentrione et 

spiciis Pompeii Magni in Asiae parte, Phry- SCYTHIA originem traxisse, non a meridie. 

gia Minore, grassantibus. Ilia enim epo- Inde LITERS GR^ECORUM, inde Mus: 

chaad hanc rem chronologi nostri utuntur. PIERIDES, inde sacrorum initia." Stlmas. 

In cujus (GYLVI SUECI^E regis) tempora de Hellenist, p. 400. As a further proof I 

incidit Odinus, Asiaticae immigrationis, shall observe, that the antient poet Tha- 

factoe anno 24 ante natum Christum, an- myris was so much esteemed by the Scy- 

tesignanus." Crymogsea, Arngrim. Jon. thians on account of his poetry, KiBapwdid, 

lib. i. cap. 4. p. 30, 31. edit. Hamburg. that they chose him their king. Conon. 

1609. See also Bartholin. Antiquitat. Dan. Narrat. Poet. cap. vii. edit. Gal. But Tha- 

lib. 55. cap. 8. p. 407. 555. c. 2. p. 652. edit. myris was a Thracian : and a late inge- 

1689. Lazius, de Gent. Migrat. 1. x. fol. nious antiquarian endeavours to prove, 

573. 30. edit. fol. 1600. Compare Ol. Rud- that the Goths were descended from the 

beck. cap. v. sect. 2. p. 95. xiv. sect. 2. p. Thracians, and that the Greeks and Thra- 

67. There is a memoir on this subject cians were only different clans of the same 

lately published in the Petersburg Trans- people. Clarke's Connexion, &c. ch. ii. 

actions, but I choose to refer to original au- p. 65. 
thorhies. See torn. v. p. 297. edit. 1738. 4to. [See also Mr. Pinkerton's Dissertation 

* " Odino etiam et aliis, qui ex Asia hue on the Goths, and Dr. Jamiesou's Hermes 

devenere, tribuunt multi antiquitatum Is- Scythicus. PRICE.] 


the Georgians, as described by Chardin, and those of certain cantons 
of Norway and Sweden, which have preserved their antient manners 
in the purest degree 8 . Not that other striking implicit and internal 
proofs, which often carry more conviction than direct historical asser- 
tions, are wanting to point out this migration. The antient inhabitants 
of Denmark and Norway inscribed the exploits of their kings and 
heroes on rocks, in characters called Runic ; and of this practice many 
marks are said still to remain in those countries 1 . This art or custom 
of writing on rocks is Asiatic ". Modern travellers report, that there 
are Runic inscriptions now existing in the deserts of Tartary*. The 
WRITTEN MOUNTAINS of the Jews* are an instance that this fashion was 
oriental. Antiently, when one of these northern chiefs fell honourably 
in battle, his weapons, his war-horse, and his wife, were consumed with 
himself on the same funeral pile y . I need not remind my readers how 
religiously this horrible ceremony of sacrificing the wife to the dead 
husband is at present observed in the east. There is a very remark- 
able correspondence, in numberless important and fundamental points, 
between the Druidical and the Persian superstitions: and notwith- 
standing the evidence of Caesar, who speaks only from popular report, 
and without precision, on a subject which he cared little about, it is 
the opinion of the learned Banier, that the Druids were formed on the 
model of the Magi z . In this hypothesis he is seconded by a modern 
antiquary; who further supposes, that Odin's followers imported this 
establishment into Scandinavia, from the confines of Persia*. The 
Scandinavians attributed divine virtue to the misletoe ; it is mentioned 
in their EDDA, or system of religious doctrines, where it is said to 
grow on the west side of Val-hall, or Odin's elysium h . That Druidical 

* See Pontoppidan. Nat. Hist. Norway, noticed by Pococke and Niebuhr. But it 
torn. ii. c. JO. 1, 2, 3. is not at all certain that these inscriptions 

1 See Saxo Grammat. Hist. Dan. were written by the Jews, nor is it yet de- 

and Hist. lib. vii. See also OL Worm. Mo- termined in what character they appear, 

num. Dan. lib. iii. Engravings of the whole are given in the 

u Paulus Jovius, a writer indeed not of Transactions of the Royal Society of Li- 
the best credit, says, that Annihal engraved terature, vol. ii. part i. p. 147. M.] 
characters on the Alpine rocks, as a testi- y See Keysler, p. 147. Two funeral ce- 
mony of his passage over them, and that remonies, one of BURNING, the other of 
they were remaining there two centuries BURYING their dead, at different times 
ago. Hist. lib. xv. p. 163. prevailed in the north; and have distiri- 

* See Voyage par Strahlemberg, &c % . A guished two eras in the old northern his- 
Description of the Northern and Eastern tory. The first was called the AGE OF FIRE, 
Parts of Europe and Asia. Schroder says, the second the AGE OF HILLS, 

from Olaus Rudbeckius, that RUNES, or z Mytholog. Expliq. ii. p. 628. 4to. 

letters, were invented by Magog the Scy- a M. Mallet, Hist. Dannem. i. p. 56. 

thian, and communicated to Tuisco the ce- See also Keysler, p. 152. 

lebrated German chieftain, in the year of b Edd. Isl. fab. xxviii. Compare Keys- 

the world 1799. Praef. ad Lexicon Latino- ler, Antiquit. Sel. Sept. p. 304. seq. The 

Scandic. Germans, a Teutonic tribe, call it to this 

* [Warton here refers to the sculptured day ' the Branch of Spectres." But see 
rocks described in " a Journal from Grand Dr. Percy's ingenious note on this passage 
Cairo to Mount Sinai and back again;" in the Edda. Northern Antiquities, vol. ii. 
edited by Dr. Robert Clayton, bishop of p. 143. 

Clogher, 4to. Lond. 1753. p. 34. and also 


rites existed among the Scandinavians we are informed from many 
antient Erse poems, which say that the British Druids, in the extre- 
mity of their affairs, solicited and obtained aid from Scandinavia . 
The Gothic hell exactly resembles that which we find in the religious 
systems of the Persians, the most abounding in superstition of all the 
eastern nations. One of the circumstances is, and an oriental idea, that 
it is full of scorpions and serpents d . The doctrines of Zeno, who 
borrowed most of his opinions from the Persian philosophers, are not 
uncommon in the EDDA. Lok, the evil deity of the Goths, is pro- 
bably the Arimanius of the Persians. In some of the most antient 
Jslandic chronicles, the Turks are mentioned as belonging to the juris- 
diction of the Scandinavians. Mahomet, not so great an inventor as is 
imagined, adopted into his religion many favourite notions and super- 
stitions from the bordering nations which were the offspring of the 
Scythians, and especially from the Turks. Accordingly, we find the 
Alcoran agreeing with the Runic theology in various instances. I will 
mention only one. It is one of the beatitudes of the Mahometan 
paradise, that blooming virgins shall administer the most luscious wines. 
Thus in Odin's Val-hall, or the Gothic elysium, the departed heroes 
received cups of the strongest mead and ale from the hands of the 
virgin-goddesses called Valkyres 6 . Alfred, in his Saxon account of 
the northern seas, taken from the mouth of Ohther, a Norwegian, who 
had been sent by that monarch to discover a north-east passage into 
the Indies, constantly calls these nations the ORIENTALS f . And as 
these eastern tribes brought with them into the north a certain degree 
of refinement, of luxury and splendour, which appeared singular and 
prodigious among barbarians ; one of their early historians describes a 
person better dressed than usual, by saying, " he was so well cloathed, 
that you might have taken him for one of the Asiatics 8." Wormius 
mentions a Runic incantation, in which an Asiatic enchantress is 
invoked 11 . Various other instances might here be added, some of 
which will occasionally arise in the future course of our inquiries. 

c Ossian's Works. Cathlin, ii. p. 216. ants of the Scandinavian peninsula, whose 

Not. edit. 1765. vol. ii. They add, that country lay upon his starboard quarter, 

among the auxiliaries came many magi- while steering due north from Halgoland 

cians. in Norway. PRICE.] 

d See Hyde, Relig. Vet. Pers. p. 399. 404. g LANDNAMA-SAGA. See Mallet, Hist. 

But compare what is said of the Edda, to- Dannem. c. ii. 
wards the close of this Discourse. h Lit. Run. p. 209, edit. 1651. The 

* Odin only drank wine in Val-hall, Goths came from the neighbourhood of 

Edd. Myth, xxxiv. See Keysler, p. 152. Colchis, the region of witchcraft, and the 

f See Preface to Alfred's Saxon Oro- country of Medea, famous for her incanta- 
sius, published by Spelman. [And since tions. The eastern pagans from the very 
by Daines Barrington.] Vit. jElfredi. earliest ages have had their enchanters. 
Spelm. Append, vi. [Oht-here was not sent Now the magicians of Egypt, they also did 
by Alfred. This voyage was undertaken in like manner with their enchantments. 
for the gratification of his own curiosity, Exod. vii. 11. See also vii. 18, 19. ix. 11, 
and the furtherance of his commercial &c. When the people of Israel had overrun 
views. He was doubtlessly ignorant of the the country of Balak, he invites Balaam, a 
existence of Asia. The Orientals, to use the neighbouring pi-ince, to curse them, or He- 
language of the text, were those inhabit- stroy them by magic, which he seems to 


It is notorious, that many traces of oriental usages are found amongst 
all the European nations during their pagan state ; and this pheno- 
menon is rationally resolved, on the supposition that all Europe was 
originally peopled from the east. But as the resemblance which the 
pagan Scandinavians bore to the eastern nations in manners, monu- 
ments, opinions, and practices, is so very perceptible and apparent, an 
inference arises, that their migration from the east must have happened 
at a period by many ages more recent, and therefore most probably 
about the time specified by their historians. In the mean time we 
must remember, that a distinction is to be made between this expedi- 
tion of Odin's Goths, who formed a settlement in Scandinavia, and 
those innumerable armies of barbarous adventurers, who some centu- 
ries afterwards, distinguished by the same name, at different periods 
overwhelmed Europe, and at length extinguished the Roman Empire. 

When we consider the rapid conquests of the nations which may be 
comprehended under the common name of Scythians, and not only 
those conducted by Odin, but by Attila, Theoderic and Genseric, we 
cannot ascribe such successes to brutal courage only. To say that 
some of these irresistible conquerors made war on a luxurious, effemi- 
nate, and enervated people, is a plausible and easy mode of accounting 
for their conquests: but this reason will not operate with equal force in 
the histories of Genghizcan and Tamerlane, who destroyed mighty 
empires founded on arms and military discipline, and who baffled the 
efforts of the ablest leaders. Their science and genius in war, such as 
t then was, cannot therefore be doubted : that they were not deficient 
in the arts of peace, I have already hinted, and now proceed to produce 
more particular proofs. Innumerable and very fundamental errors 
have crept into our reasonings and systems about savage life, resulting 
merely from those strong and undistinguishing notions of barbarism, 
which our prejudices have hastily formed concerning the character of 
all rude nations 1 . 

Among other arts which Odin's Goths planted in Scandinavia, their 
skill in poetry, to which they were addicted in a peculiar manner, and 
which they cultivated with a wonderful enthusiasm, seems to be most 
worthy our regard, and especially in our present inquiry. 

have professed. And the elders of Moab de- spells got into the ritual of chivalry. In all 

parted with the rewards of DIVINATION in legal single combats, each champion at- 

their hand. Num. xxii. 7. Surely there is tested upon oath, that he did not carry 

no ENCHANTMENT against Israel, xxiii. about him any herb, SPELL, or ENCH AN T- 

23. And he went out, as at other times, to MENT. Dugdal. Orig. Juridic. p. 82. See 

seek for ENCHANTMENTS, xxiv. 1, &c. Hickes's account of the silver Dano-Saxon 

Odin himself was not only a warrior, but shield, dug up in the Isle of Ely, having a 

a magician, and his Asiatics were called magical Runic inscription, supposed to 

Jncantationum auctores. Chron. Norweg. render those who bore it in battle invulne- 

apud Bartholin. 1. iii. c. 2. p. 657. Cry- rable. Apud Hickes. Thesaur. Dissertat. 

mog. Arngrim. lib. i. cap. vii. p. 511. Epistol. p. 187. 

From this source, those who adopt the prin- See this argument pursued in the Se- 

ciples just mentioned in this discourse, may cond Dissertation, 
be inclined to think, that the notion of 


As the principal heroes of their expedition into the north were 
honourably distinguished from the Europeans, or original Scandina- 
vians, under the name of AS^E, or Asiatics, so the verses or language, 
of this people, were denominated ASAMAL, or ASIATIC speech 1 *. 
Their poetry contained not only the praises of their heroes, but their 
popular traditions and their religious rites; and was filled with those 
fictions which the most exaggerated pagan superstition would naturally 
implant in the wild imaginations of an Asiatic people. And from this 
principle alone, I mean of their Asiatic origin, some critics would at 
once account for a certain capricious spirit of extravagance, and those 
bold eccentric conceptions, which so strongly distinguish the old 
northern poetry 1 . Nor is this fantastic imagery the only mark of 
Asiaticism which appears in the Runic odes. They have a certain sub- 
lime and figurative cast of diction, which is indeed one of their predo- 
minant characteristics" 1 . I am very sensible that all rude nations are 
naturally apt to cloathe their sentiments in this style. A propensity to 
this mode of expression is necessarily occasioned by the poverty of their 
language, which obliges them frequently to substitute similitudes and 
circumlocutions : it arises in great measure from feelings undisguised 
and unrestrained by custom or art, and from the genuine efforts of 
nature working more at large in uncultivated minds. In the infancy 
of society, the passions and the imaginations are alike uncontroled. 
But another cause seems to have concurred in producing the effect 
here mentioned. When obvious terms and phrases evidently occurred, 
the Runic poets are fond of departing from the common and esta- 
blished diction. They appear to use circumlocution and comparisons 
not as a matter of necessity, but of choice and skill : nor are these me- 
taphorical colourings so much the result of want of words, as of 
warmth of fancy". 

k " Linguam Danicam antiquam, cujus have a different character ; it will be more 

in rythmis usus fuit, veteres appellarunt inflated and gigantic. 

ASAMAL, id est Asiaticam, vel ASARUM m Thus, a rainbow is called, the bridge 

SERMONEM ; quod eum ex Asia Odinus of the gods. Poetry, the mead of Odin. The 

serum in Daniam, Norwegian!, Sueciam, earth, the vessel that floats on ages. A ship, 

ttliasque regiones septentrionales, invex- the horse of the waves. Ice, the vast bridge. 

erit." Steph. Stephan. Prafat. ad Saxon. Herbs, the fleece of the earth. A battle, a 

(irammat. Hist. bath of blood, the hail of Odin, the shock of 

1 A most ingenious critic observes, that bucklers. A tongue, the sword of words. 

" what we have been long accustomed to Night, the veil of cares. Rocks, the bones 

call the ORIENTAL VEIN of poetry, because of the earth. Arrows, the hailstones ofhel- 

some of the EARLIEST poetical productions mets, fyc. fyc. 

have come to us from the east, is probably n In a strict geographical sense, the ori- 

no more ORIENTAL than OCCIDENTAL." ginal country of these Asiatic Goths might 

Blair's Crit. Diss. on Ossian, vol. ii. p. 317. not be so situated as physically to have pro- 

But all the LATER oriental writers through duced these effects. Yet it is to be obser- 

all ages have been particularly distin- ved, that intercourse and vicinity are in 

puished for this VEIN. Hence it is here this case sometimes equivalent to climate, 

characteristical of a country, not of an age. The Persian traditions and superstitions 

I will allow, on this writer's very just and were current even in the northern parts of 

penetrating principles, that an early north- Tartary. Georgia, however, may be fairly 

ern ode shall be as sublime as an eastern considered as a part of Persia. It is equal 

one: yet the sublimity of the latter shall in fertility to any of the eastern Turkish 


Their warmth of fancy, however, if supposed to have proceeded 
from the principles above suggested, in a few generations after this 
migration into Scandinavia, must have lost much of its natural heat 
and genuine force. Yet ideas and sentiments, especially of this sort, 
once imbibed, are long remembered and retained, in savage life. Their 
religion, among other causes, might have contributed to keep this 
spirit alive ; and to preserve their original stock of images, and native 
mode of expression, unchanged and unabated by climate or country. 
In the mean time we may suppose, that the new situation of these 
people in Scandinavia might have added a darker shade and a more 
savage complexion to their former fictions and superstitions ; and that 
the formidable objects of nature to which they became familiarised in 
those northern solitudes, the piny precipices, the frozen mountains, 
and the gloomy forests, acted on their imaginations, and gave a tinc- 
ture of horror to their imagery. 

A skill in poetry seems in some measure to have been a national 
science among the Scandinavians, and to have been familiar to almost 
every order and degree. Their kings and warriors partook of this epi- 
demic enthusiasm, and on frequent occasions are represented as 
breaking forth into spontaneous songs and verses . But the exercise 
of the poetical talent was properly confined to a stated profession : and 

provinces in Asia. It affords tlie richest 
wines, and other luxuries of life, in the 
greatest abundance. The most beautiful 
virgins for the seraglio are fetched from 
this province. In the mean time, thus 
much at least may be said of a warm cli- 
mate, exclusive of its supposed immediate 
physical influence on the human mind and 
temperament. It exhibits all the produc- 
tions of nature in their highest perfection 
and beauty ; while the excessive heat of 
the sun, and the fewer incitements to la- 
bour and industry, dispose the inhabitants 
to indolence, and to living much abroad in 
scenes of nature. These circumstances are 
favourable to the operations of fancy. 

Harold Hardraade, king of Norway, 
composed sixteen songs of his expedition 
into Africa. Asbiorn Pruda, a Danish 
champion, described his past life in nine 
strophes, while his enemy Bruce, a giant, 
was tearing out his bowels. " i. Tell my 
mother Suanhita in Denmark, that site will 
not this summer comb the hair of her son. 
I had promised her to return, but noiv my 
side shall feel the edge of the sword, ii. It 
was far otherwise, when ive sate at home 
in mirth, cheering ourselves with the drink 
of ale ; and coming from Hordeland passed 
the gulf in our ships ; when we quaffed 
mead, and conversed of liberty. Now I 
alone am fallen into the narrorv prisons of 
the grants, iii. It was far otherwise," &c. 
Every stanza is introduced with the same 

choral burden. Bartholin. Antiquit. Danic. 
1. i. cap. 10. p. 158. edit. 1689. [Asbiorn 
Pruda lived at the close of the tenth and the 
beginning of the eleventh century. But 
his Saga, which abounds in the most mar- 
vellous adventures, and this celebrated 
death-song, were fabricated in the four- 
teenth century. See Suhm's History of 
Denmark, vol. 3, p. 294. PRICE.] The 
noble epicedium of Regner Lodbrog is 
more commonly known. The champion 
Orvar-Odd, after his expeditions into va- 
rious countries, sung, on his death-bed, 
the most memorable events of his life in 
metre. [Orvar-Odd's Saga, from which 
Torfseus (Hist. Norv. P. i. p. 263284) 
has extracted the more sober parts of the 
narrative, is a romantic composition of 
the fourteenth or fifteenth century. It 
is even very uncertain whether such a 
person ever existed. PRICE.] Hallmund, 
being mortally wounded, commanded his 
daughter to listen to a poem which he 
was about to deliver, containing histories 
of his victories, and to engrave it on ta- 
blets of wood. Bartholin. ibid. p. 162. 
Saxo Grammaticus gives us a regular ode, 
uttered by the son of a king of Norway, 
who by mistake had been buried alive, 
and was discovered and awakened by a 
party of soldiers digging for treasure. 
Sax. Grammat. lib. 5. p. 50. There are 
instances recorded of their speaking in 
metre on the most common occurrences. 



with their poetry the Goths imported into Europe a species of poets or 
singers, whom they called SCALDS or POLISHERS of LANGUAGE. This 
order of men, as we shall see more distinctly below, was held in the 
highest honour and veneration : they received the most liberal rewards 
for their verses, attended the festivals of heroic chiefs, accompanied 
them in battle, and celebrated their victories 11 . 

These Scandinavian bards appear to have been esteemed and enter- 
tained in other countries besides their own, and by that means to have 
probably communicated their fictions to various parts of Europe. I will 
give my reasons for this supposition. 

In the early ages of Europe, before many regular governments took 
place, revolutions, emigrations, and invasions were frequent and almost 
universal. Nations were alternately destroyed or formed ; and the want 
of political security exposed the inhabitants of every country to a state 
of eternal fluctuation. That Britain was originally peopled from Gaul, 
a nation of the Celts, is allowed : but that many colonies from the north- 
ern parts of Europe were afterwards successively planted in Britain and 
the neighbouring islands, is an hypothesis equally rational, and not al- 
together destitute of historical evidence. Nor was any nation more 
likely than the Scandinavian Goths, 1 mean in their early periods, to 

p The Sogdians were a people who lived 
eastward of the Caspian sea, not far from 
the country of Odin's Goths. Quintus Cur- 
tius relates, that when some of that people 
were condemned to death by Alexander on 
account of a revolt, they rejoiced greatly, 
and testified their joy by SINGING VERSES 
and dancing. When the king inquired the 
reason of their joy, they answered, " that 
being soon to be RESTORED TO THEIR 
ANCESTORS by so great a conqueror, they 
could not help celebrating so honourable a 
death, which was the WISH of all brave 
men, in their own ACCUSTOMED SONGS." 
Lib. vii. c. 8. I am obliged to Dr. Percy 
for pointing out- this passage. From the 
correspondence of manners and principles 
it holds forth between the Scandinavians 
and the Sogdians, it contains a striking 
proof of Odin's migration from the east to 
the north : first, in the spontaneous exer- 
cise of the poetical talent ; and secondly, 
in the opinion, that a glorious or warlike 
death, which admitted them to the com- 
pany of their friends and parents in an- 
other world, was to be embraced with the 
most eager alacrity, and the highest sen- 
sations of pleasure. This is the doctrine of 
the Edda. In the same spirit, RIDENS 
MORIAR is the triumphant close of Regner 
Lodbrog's dying ode. [See Keysler, ubi 
infr. p. 154.] I cannot help adding here 
another stroke from this ode, which seems 
also to be founded on eastern manners. 
He speaks with great rapture of drinking, 
" ex concavis crateribus craniorum." The 

inhabitants of the island of Ceylon to this 
day carouse at their feasts, from cups or 
bowls made of the sculls of their deceased 
ancestors. Ives's Voyage to India, ch. 5, 
p. 62. Lond. 1773. 4to. This practice these 
islanders undoubtedly received from the 
neighbouring continent. Compare Keysler, 
Antiquitat. Sel. Septentr. p. 362. seq. 

[Silius Italicus charges the Celts with 
indulging in a similar practice : 

At Celtae vacui capitis circundare gaudent 
Ossa (nefas) auro, et mensis ea pocula 

And the Longobardic and Bavarian histo- 
ries record single examples of its occurrence 
for the gratification of personal revenge. 
But except the passage quoted by Warton, 
there is no authority for the existence of 
such a custom in the North as a national 
habit ; and in this a violent and far-fetched 
metaphor has been erroneously translated, 
to be made the basis of an imputation 
equally revolting and absurd. The origi- 
nal Islandic text stands thus : 

Drekkum bior at bragdi 
Ur biug-vidom hausa. 

Instantly we shall drink ale 
From the skull's winding trees. 

Or in the sober phrase of common par- 
lance: "We shall drink our beer out of 
horns." The Celtic antiquaries may per- 
haps be able to offer a similar vindication 
of their uncivilized ancestors. PRICE.] 


make descents on Britain. They possessed the spirit of adventure in an 
eminent degree. They were habituated to dangerous enterprises. They 
were acquainted with distant coasts, exercised in navigation, and fond 
of making expeditions, in hopes of conquest, and in search of new ac- 
quisitions. As to Scotland and Ireland, there is the highest probability, 
that the Scutes, who conquered both those countries, and possessed them 
under the names of Albin Scutes and Irin Scutes, were a people of Nor- 
way. The Caledonians are expressly called by many judicious antiqua- 
ries a Scandinavian colony. The names of places and persons, over all 
that part of Scotland which the Picts inhabited, are of Scandinavian ex- 
traction. A simple catalogue of them only would immediately convince 
us, that they are not of Celtic, or British origin. Flaherty reports it as 
a received opinion, and a general doctrine, that the Picts migrated into 
Britain and Ireland from Scandinavia 1. I forbear to accumulate a pe- 
dantic parade of authorities on this occasion : nor can it be expected 
that I should enter into a formal and exact examination of this obscure 
and complicated subject in its full extent, which is here only introduced 
incidentally. I will only add, that Scotland and Ireland, as being si- 
tuated more to the north, and probably less difficult of access than Bri- 
tain, might have been objects on which our northern adventurers were 
invited to try some of their earliest excursions ; and that the Orkney- 
islands remained long under the jurisdiction of the Norwegian po- 

In these expeditions, the northern emigrants, as we shall prove more 
particularly below, were undoubtedly attended by their scalds or poets. 
Yet even in times of peace, and without the supposition of conquest or 
invasion, the Scandinavian scalds might have been well known in the 
British islands. Possessed of a specious and pleasing talent, they fre- 
quented the courts of the British, Scottish, and Irish chieftains. They 
were itinerants by their institution, and made voyages, out of curiosity, 
or in quest of rewards, to those islands or coasts which lay within the 
circle of their maritime knowledge. By these means, they established 
an interest, rendered their profession popular, propagated their art, and 
circulated their fictions, in other countries, and at a distance from home. 
Torfaeus asserts positively, that various Islandic odes now remain, which 

q It is conjectured by Wormius, that [The Celtic population of Ireland pre- 

Ireland is derived from the Runic Yr, a cedes the period of legitimate history, 

bow, for the use of which the Irish were Their migration to Scotland has been re- 

once famous. Lit. Run. c. xvii. p. 92. ferred with great probability to the earlier 

The Asiatics, near the lake Mseotis, from part of the fourth century. But the origin 

which Odin led his colony into Europe, of the Picts, their language, the etymology 

were celebrated archers. Hence Hercules " of the names of places and persons over 

in Theocritus, Idyll, xiii. 56. that part of Scotland which they inhabit- 

-M,*, *.&, *?*> g. e J'" is a subject which divides the opinions 

of Scottish antiquaries. See Mr. Chal- 

Compare Salmas. de Hellen. p. 3G9. mers's Caledonia, and Dr. Jamieson's Ety- 

And Flahert. Ogyg. Part. iii. cap. xviii. mological Scottish Dictionary (Tntroduc- 

p. 188. edit. 1685. Stillingfleet's Orig, tion). PRICE.] 
Brit. Prsef. p. xxxviii. 


were sung by the Scandinavian bards before the kings of England and 
Ireland, and for which they received liberal gratuities 1 ". They were 
more especially caressed and rewarded at the courts of those princes 
who were distinguished for their warlike character, and their passion 
for military glory. 

Olaus Wormius informs us, that great numbers of the northern scalds 
constantly resided in the courts of the kings of Sweden, Denmark, and 
England 3 . Hence the tradition in an antient Islandic Saga, or poetical 
history, may be explained ; which says, that Odin's language was ori- 
ginally used, not only in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, but even in 
England t . Indeed it may be naturally concluded from these suggestions, 
that the Scandinavian tongue became familiar in the British islands by 
the songs of the scalds; unless it be rather presumed, that a previous 
knowledge of that tongue in Britain was the means of facilitating the 
admission of those poets, and preparing the way for their reception. 

And here it will be much to our present argument to observe, that 
some of the old Gothic and Scandinavian superstitions are to this day 
retained in the English language. MARA, from whence our Night-mare 
is derived, was in the Runic theology a spirit or spectre of the night, 
which seized men in their sleep, and suddenly deprived them of speech 
and motion u . NICK A was the Gothic demon who' inhabited the element 
of water, and who strangled persons that were drowning w . BOH was 
one of the most fierce and formidable of the Gothic generals x , and the 
son of Odin ; the mention of whose name was sufficient to spread an 
immediate panic among his enemies y. 

* Torf. Hist. Oread, in Praefat. [See the some degree almost over all England, many 

Sagas of Egill, and Gunnlaug Ormstunga. other poems are composed, mentioned like- 

PRICE.] wise in Wanley's Catalogue. [See the Pre- 

8 Lit. Dan. p. 195. ed. 4to. face to this edition. PRICE.] Itisthecon- 

1 Bartholin. iii. 2. p. 651. It was a stant doctrine of the Danish historians, that 

constant old British tradition, that king the Danes and Angles, whose successors 

Arthur conquered Ireland, Gothland, Den- gave the name to this island, had the same 

mark, and Norway. See Galfrid. Monum. origin. 

ix. 11. Rob. of Glouc. ed. Hearne, p. 180. u See Keysler, Antiquitat. Sel. Septen- 

182. What is said in the text must have trional. p. 497. edit. 1720. 

greatly facilitated the Saxon and Danish w See Keysler, ut supr. p. 261. And in 

conquests in England. The works of the Addend, ibid. p. 588. 

genuine Caedmon are written in the Ian- x See Keysler, ibid. p. 105. p. 130. 

guage of the antient Angles, who were y See Temple's Essays, part 4. p. 346. 

nearly connected with the Jutes. Hence See also instances of conformity between 

that language resembled the antient Da- English and Gothic superstitions in Bar- 

nish, as appears from passages of Csedmon tholinus, 1 ii. cap. 2. p. 262. 266. It may 

cited by Wanley. Hence also it happen- be urged, that these superstitions might be 

ed, that the later Dano-Saxonic dialect, introduced by the Danes ; of whom I shall 

in which Junius's Poetical Paraphrase of speak below. But this brings us to just 

Genesis was written, is likewise so very the same point. The learned Hickes was 

similar to the language of the antient of opinion, from a multitude of instances, 

Angles, who settled in the more northern that our trial by a jury of Twelve, was an 

parts of England. [See, in relation to early Scandinavian institution, and that it 

this imaginary Dano-Saxonic dialect, Mr. was brought from thence into England ; 

Thorpe's remarks, in the preface to his yet he supposes, at a period later than is 

edition of Caedmon, 8vo. 1832. M.] And necessary, the Norman invasion. See 

in this dialect, which indeed prevailed in VVootton's Conspectus of Hickes'sThesaur. 


The fictions of Odin and of his Scandinavians, must have taken still 
deeper root in the British islands, at least in England, from the Saxon 
and Danish invasions. 

That the tales of the Scandinavian scalds flourished among the Saxons, 
who succeeded to the Britons, and became possessors of England in the 
sixth century, may be justly presumed 2 . The Saxons were originally 
seated in the Cimbric Chersonese, or those territories which have been 
since called Jutland, Angelen, and Holstein ; and were fond of tracing 

p. 46. Lond. 1708. And Hickes. The- 
snur. Dissertat. Epistol. vol. i. p. 38. seq. 
The number TWELVE was sacred among 
the Septentrional tribes. Odin's Judges 
are TWELVE, and have TWELVE seats in 
Gladheim. Edd. Isl. fab. vii. The God 
of the Eddahas TWELVE names, ibid, fab.i. 
An Aristocracy of TWELVE is a well-known 
antient establishment in the North. In the 
Dialogue between Hervor and Angantyr, 
the latter promises to give Hervor TWELVE 
MEN'S DEATHS. [He gives her that which 
is to be the death of twelve men the 
sword Tirfing. PRICE.] Hervarar-Saga, 
apud 01. Verel. cap. vii. p. 91. The Druid- 
ical circular monuments of separate stones 
erect, are more frequently of the number 
TWELVE, than of any other number. See 
Borlase, Antiquit. Cornw. B. iii. ch. vii. 
edit. 1769. fol. And Toland, Hist. Druid. 
p. 89. 158. 160. See also Martin's Hebrid. 
p. 9. In Zealand and Sweden, many an- 
tient circular monuments, consisting each 
of twelve rude stones, still remain, which 
were the places of judicature. My late 
very learned, ingenious, and respected 
friend, Dr. Borlase, pointed out to me 
monuments of the same sort in Cornwall. 
Compare Keysler, p. 93. And it will il- 
lustrate remarks already made, and the 
principles insinuated in this Dissertation, 
to observe, that these monuments are found 
in Persia, near Tauris. [See the Voyages 
de Chardin, p. 377. ed. 1686. 12mo. It is 
astonishing, that after the most evident 
proofs of these stone monuments being the 
production of our northern ancestors, wri- 
ters will persist without any authority what- 
ever in calling them Druidical. DOUCE.] 
[It is also "astonishing," that with such 
"evident proofs'' of their existence in al- 
most every part of Europe and Asia, they 
should be exclusively assigned either to 
"our northern ancestors," or their Celtic 
antagonists. The occurrence of such mo- 
numents in Cornwall, where the Saxons 
only obtained a footing at a very late pe- 
riod, and in those parts of Ireland which 
were frequented by neither Saxons nor 
Scandinavians, clearly forbids the assump- 

tion of their Teutonic origin; while their 
name (Thing-stadar), and the purpose to 
which they were applied in the North of 
Europe, may receive an illustration from 
the page of Homer. 

KyovKts ' Aaov igtjruav' ol $i ytgovrtg 

EiUr' ifl %l<rTOiffl KlQotg, llgto (VI XVX*.U. 

II. xviii. 503. 

These "sacred circles" in the North were 
not only used as places of public assembly, 
but were the scenes of all judicial proceed- 
ings. From a passage in the 67th chapter 
,of Egills-Saga, there is reason to believe, 
that they were also made the theatres of the 
" trial by battle." The Irish antiquaries 
consider them to have been places of public 
worship. "Magh-Adhair, a plain of ado- 
ration, where stood an open temple consist- 
ing of a circle of tall straight stone pillars 
with a very large flat stone called Crom- 
leac, serving for an altar, constructed by 
the Druids and similar to that in Exodus 

xxiv. 'And Moses builded an altar 

under the hill, and twelve pillars, accord- 
ing to the twelve tribes of Israel.'" O'Brian 
in voc. PRICE.] Geoffrey of Monmouth 
affords instances in his British History. 
The knights sent into Wales by Fitzham- 
mon, in 1091, were TWELVE. Powel, p. 
124. sub anno. See also an instance in 
Du Carell, Anglo-Norman Antiq. p. 9. 
It is probable that Charlemagne formed 
his TWELVE PEERS on this principle. 
From whom Spenser evidently took his 

[In the poem of Beowulf 'twolf wintra 
tid,' the time of twelve winters, is evidently 
a mere epic form of expression to denote 
an indefinite period. It is like the forty 
days of the Hebrews, the inn/aug of the 
Iliad, the eleven of Piers Plowman. This 
number therefore ought not to be inter- 
preted too literally, unless supported by 
the context. PRICE.] 

z "Ex vetustioribus poetis Cimbrorutn, 
nempe Scaldis et Theotiscae gentis versifi- 
catoribus, plane multa, ut par est credere, 
sumpsere." Hickes. Thesaur. i. p. 101, 
See p. 117. 



the descent of their princes from Odin a . They were therefore a part of 
the Scandinavian tribes. They imported with them into England the 
old Runic language and letters. This appears from inscriptions on 
coins b , stones , and other monuments; and from some of their manu- 
scripts' 1 . It is well known that Runic inscriptions have been discovered 
in Cumberland and Scotland ; and that there is even extant a coin of 
king Offa, with a Runic legend 6 . But the conversion of the Saxons to 
Christianity, which happened before the seventh century, entirely ba- 
nished the common use of those characters^ which were esteemed un- 
hallowed and necromantic ; and with their antient superstitions, which 
yet prevailed for some time in the popular belief, abolished in some 
measure their native and original vein of poetic fabling ? . They sud- 
denly became a mild and polished people, addicted to the arts of peace, 
and the exercise of devotion ; and the poems they have left us are chiefly 
moral rhapsodies, scriptural histories or religious invocations 11 . Yet even 

* See Gibson's Chron. Saxon, p. 12. seq. 
Historians mention WODEN'S BEORTH, 
i. e. Woden's hill, in Wiltshire. See Mil- 
ton, Hist. Engl. An. 588. 

b See Sir A. Fountaine's Pref. Saxon 
TARIUS, &c. See also Serenii Diction. 
Anglo- Suecico- Latin. Praef. p. 21. 

c See Hickes's Thesaur. BAPTISTERIUM 
BRIDEKIRKENSE. Par. Hi. p. 4. Tab. ii. 
SAXUM REVELLENSE apud Scotos. Ibid. 
Tab. iv. p. 5. CRUX LAPIDEA apudBeau- 
castle. Wanley Catal. MSS. Anglo-Sax, 
pag. 248. ad calc. Hickes. Thesaur. AN- 
NULUS AUREUS. Drake's York, Append. 
p. J02. Tab. N. 26. And Gordon's Itin. 
Septentr. p. 168. 

d See Hickes's Thesaur. Par.i. p. 135. 
136. 148. Par. iii. Tab. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 
It may be conjectured that these charac- 
ters were introduced by the Danes. It is 
certain that they never grew into common 
use. They were at least inconvenient, as 
consisting of capitals. We have no re- 
mains of Saxon writing so old as the sixth 
century. Nor are there any of the seventh, 
except a very few charters. [Bibl. Bodl. 
NE. D. 11. 19. seq.] [This reference can- 
not be correct, since the only MS. that 
answers to the mark NE. D. ii. (there is no 
xi.) 19, is now in the Auctarium, F. 3. 34, 
and contains no charters whatever. Pre- 
fixed to it is the portrait of St. Dunstan, 
engraved by Hickes and Strutt, and ab- 
surdly supposed to have been drawn by 
Dunstan himself. See infr. Diss. ii. page 
ci. note p . M.] See Hickes's Thesaur. 
Par. i. p. 169. See also CHARTA ODIL- 


Tab. i. Casley's Cat. Bibl, Reg. in the Bri- 
tish Museum. 

e See Archaeol. vol. ii. p. 131. A. D. 
1773. 4to. 

f But see Hickes, ubi supr. i. p. 140. 

E It has been suggested to me by an in- 
genious friend, that GUY and SIR BEVIS, 
the first of whom lived in the reign of 
Athelstan, and the latter, as some sup- 
pose, in that of Edgar, both Christian cham- 
pions against the pagan Danes, were ori- 
ginally subjects of the genuine Saxon bards. 
But I rather think, they began to be cele- 
brated in or after the crusades ; the nature 
of which expeditions dictated to the ro- 
mance-writers, and brought into vogue, 
stories of Christians fighting with infidel 
heroes. The cause was the same, and the 
circumstances partly parallel ; and this be- 
ing once the fashion, they consulted their 
own histories for heroes, and combats were 
feigned with Danish giants, as well as with 
the Saracen. See infr. Sect. iii. pp. 143. 
144. There is the story of BEVIS in 
Lhuyd's Arch. Brit. p. 264. 

h Except an ode on Athelstan, trans- 
lated below. See Sect. i. p. 2. See also 
the description of the city of Durham. 
Hickes, p. 179. It has nothing of the wild 
strain of poetry. The saints and relics of 
Durham church seen to have struck the 
poet most, in describing that city. I can- 
not discern the supposed sublimity of those 
mysterious dithyrambics, which close the 
Saxon MENOLOGE, or poetic calendar, 
written about the tenth century, printed 
by Hickes, Gramm. Anglo-Sax, p. 207. 
They seem to be prophecies and proverbs ; 
or rather splendid fragments from differ- 
ent poems, thrown together without con- 


in these pieces they have frequent allusions to the old scaldic fables and 
heroes. Thus, in an Anglo-Saxon poem on Judith, Holofernes is called 
BALDER, or leader and prince of warriors. And in a poetical para- 
phrase on Genesis, Abimelech has the same appellation *. This Balder 
was a famous chieftain of the Asiatic Goths, the son of Odin, and sup- 
posed to inhabit a magnificent hall in the future place of rewards. The 
same Anglo-Saxon paraphrast, in his prosopopoeia of Satan addressing 
his companions plunged in the infernal abyss, adopts many images and 
expressions used in the very sublime description of the Eddie hell k : 
Henry of Huntingdon ' complains of certain extraneous words and un- 
common figures of speech, in a Saxon ode on a victory of king Athelstan. 
These were all scaldic expressions or allusions. But I will give a literal 
English translation of this poem, which cannot be well understood with- 
out premising its occasion. In the year 938, Anlaif*, a pagan king of 
the Hybernians and the adjacent isles, invited by Constantine king of 
the Scots, entered the river Abi or Humber with a strong fleet. Our 
Saxon king Athelstan, and his brother Eadmund Clito [aetheling], met 
them with a numerous army, near a place called Brunenburgh ; and after 
a most obstinate and bloody resistance, drove them back to their ships. 
The battle lasted from day-break till the evening. On the side of An- 
laff were slain five petty kings, and seven chiefs or generals. "King 
Adelstan, the glory of leaders, the giver of gold chains to his nobles, and 
his brother Eadmund, both shining with the brightness of a long train 
of ancestors, struck [the adversary ^ in war; at Brunenburgh, with the 
edge of the sword, they clove the wall of shields. The high banners 
fell. The earls of the departed Edward fell; for it was born within 
them, even from the loins of their kindred, to defend the treasures and 
the houses of their country, and their gifts, against the hatred of stran- 
gers. The nation of the Scots, and the fatal inhabitants of ships, fell. 
The hills resounded, and the armed men were covered with sweat. 
From the time the sun, the king of stars, the torch of the eternal 
one, rose chearful above the hills, till he returned to his habitation. 
There lay many of the northern men, pierced with lances ; they lay 
wounded, with their shields pierced through : and also the Scots, the 
hateful harvest of battle. The chosen bands of the West-Saxons, going 
out to battle, pressed on the steps of the detested nations, and slew their 
flying rear with sharp and bloody swords. The soft effeminate men 
yielded up their spears. The Mercians did not fear or fly the rough 
game of the hand. There was no safety to them, who sought the land 

1 See Hickes. Thesaur. i. p. 10. who Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. p. 343. Anlaf,whom 

adds many more instances. Athelstan had expelled from the kingdom 

k Fab. xlix. See Hickes, ubi supr. p. of North-humbria, was in all probability a 

116. [See Conybeare'slllustr.p. 190; and Christian. Wulstan archbishop of York, 

Thorpe's Csedmon, p. 271, 274, 285, &c.] who united with Anlaf in his second at- 

1 Who has greatly misrepresented the tempt to recover his inheritance, would 

sense by a bad Latin translation. Hist. hardly have fought under a Pagan banner, 

lib. v. p. 203. PRICE.] 

* [See Mr. Turner's History of the 


with Anlaffin the bosom of the ship, to die in fight. Five youthful kings 
fell in the place of fight, slain with swords ; and seven captains of Anlaff, 
with the innumerable army of Scottish mariners : there the lord of the 
Normans [Northernmen] was chased ; and their army, now made small, 
was driven to the prow of the ship. The ship sounded with the waves; 
and the king, marching into the yellow sea, escaped alive. And so it 
was, the wise northern king Constantine, a veteran chief, returning by 
flight to his own army, bowed down in the camp, left his own son worn 
out with wounds in the place of slaughter ; in vain did he lament his 
earls, in vain his lost friends. Nor less did Anlaff, the yellow-haired 
leader, the battle-ax of slaughter, a youth in war, but an old man in un- 
derstanding, boast himself a conqueror in fight, when the darts flew 
against Edward's earls, and their banners met. Then those northern 
soldiers, covered with shame, the sad refuse of darts in the resounding 
whirlpool ofHumber, departed in their ships with rudders, to seek through 
the deep the Irish city and their own land. While both the brothers, 
the king and Clito, lamenting even their own victory, together returned 
home ; leaving behind them the flesh -devouring raven, the dark-blue 
toad greedy of slaughter, the black crow with horny bill, and the hoarse 
toad, the eagle a companion of battles, with the devouring kite, and that 
brindled savage beast the wolf of the wood, to be glutted with the white 
food of the slain. Never was so great a slaughter in this island, since 
the Angles and Saxons, the fierce beginners of war, coming hither from 
the east, and seeking Britain through the wide sea, overcame the Bri- 
tons excelling in honour, and gained possession of their land" 1 ." 

This piece, and many other Saxon odes and songs now remaining^ are 
written in a metre much resembling that of the scaldic dialogue at the 
tomb of Angantyr*, which has been beautifully translated into English, 
in the true spirit of the original, and in a genuine strain of poetry, by 
Gray. The extemporaneous effusions of the glowing bard seem natu- 
rally to have fallen into this measure, arid it was probably more easily 
suited to the voice or harp. Their versification for the most part seems 
to have been that of the Runic poetry. 

As literature, the certain attendant, as it is the parent, of true religion 
and civility, gained ground among the Saxons, poetry no longer re- 
mained a separate science, and the profession of bard seems gradually 
to have declined among them: I mean the bard under those appropriated 
characteristics, and that peculiar appointment, which he sustained among 

m The original was first printed by of Gibson, and of course shares the faults 

Wheloc in the Saxon Chronicle, p. 555. of its original. PRICE.] 

Cant. 1644. See Hickes. Thes. Prsefat. * [The invocation of Hervor at the tomb 

p. xiv. And ibid. Gramm. Anglo-Sax. of her father Angantyr was translated in 

p. 181. prose by Dr. Hickes. It was republished 

[At the close of this Dissertation the with emendations by Dr. Percy in 1763, 

reader will find the original ode and a and has since been closely and paraphra- 

nearly literal version of it. The transla- stically versified by Mr. Mathias and Miss 

tion in the text was made from the Latin Seward. PARK.] 


the Scandinavian pagans. Yet their national love of verse and music 
still so strongly predominated, that in the place of their old scalders a 
new rank of poets arose, called GLEEMEN or Harpers". These probably 
gave rise to the order of English Minstrels, who flourished till the six- 
teenth century. 

And here I stop to point out one of the principal reasons, why the 
Scandinavian bards have transmitted to modern times so much more of 
their native poetry, than the rest of their southern neighbours. It is 
true, that the inhabitants of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, whether 
or no from their Asiatic origin, from their poverty which compelled them 
to seek their fortunes at foreign courts by the exercise of a popular art, 
from the success of their bards, the nature of their republican govern- 
ment, or their habits of unsettled life, were more given to verse than 
any other Gothic, or even Celtic tribe. But this is not all : they re- 
mained pagans, and retained their original manners, much longer than 
any of their Gothic kindred. They were not completely converted to 
Christianity till the tenth century . Hence, under the concurrence how- 
ever of some of the causes just mentioned, their scaldic profession ac- 
quired greater degrees of strength and of maturity ; and from an unin- 
terrupted possession through many ages of the most romantic religious 
superstitions, and the preservation of those rough, manners which are so 
favourable to the poetical spirit, was enabled to produce, not only more 
genuine, but more numerous compositions. True religion would have 
checked the impetuosity of their passions, suppressed their wild exertions 
of fancy, and banished that striking train of imagery, which their poetry 
derived from a barbarous theology. This circumstance also suggests to 
our consideration, those superior advantages arid opportunities arising 
from leisure and length of time, which they enjoyed above others, of 
circulating their poetry far and wide, of giving a general currency 
to their mode of fabling, of rendering their skill in versification more 
universally and familiarly known, and a more conspicuous and popular 
object of admiration or imitation to the neighbouring countries. Hence 
too it has happened, that modern times have not only attained much 
fuller information concerning their historical transactions, but are so in- 
timately acquainted with the peculiarities of their character. 

It is probable, that the Danish invasions produced a considerable al- 

n GLEEMAN answers to the Latin Jo- decreed that no bishop, or any ecclesiastic, 
CULATOR. Fabyan speaking of Blage- shall keep or have CITHAR./EDAS, and it is 
bride, an ancient British king, famous for added QU^ECUMQUE SYMPHONIACA ; nor 
his skill in poetry and music, calls him " a permit plays or sports, LUDOS VEL Jocos, 
conynge musicyan, called of the Britons undoubtedly inimical and gesticulatory en- 
god of GLEEMEN." Chron. f. xxxii. ed. tertainments, to be exhibited in his pre- 
1533. This Fabyan translated from Geof- sence. Malmesb. Gest. Pontif. lib. iii. p. 
frey of Monmouth's account of the same 263. edit. vet. And Concil. Spelman. 1. 1. 
British king, "ut DEUS JOCULATOUUM p. 159. edit. 1639. fol. 
videretur." Hist. Brit. lib. i. c. 22. It See bishop Lloyd's Hist. Account of 
appears from the injunctions given to the Church Government in Great Britain, &c. 
British church in the year 680, that female chap. i. .11. 4to. Lond. 1684. And Cry- 
harpers were not then uncommon. It is mog. Arngrim. L. i. cap. 10. p. 104, 
VOL. I. C 



teration in the manners of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors. Although their 
connections with England were transient and interrupted, and on the 
whole scarcely lasted two hundred years, yet many of the Danish cus- 
toms began to prevail among the inhabitants, which seem to have given a 
new turn to their temper and genius. The Danish fashion of excessive 
drinking, for instance, a vice almost natural to the northern nations, be- 
came so general among the Anglo-Saxons, that it was found necessary 
to restrain so pernicious and contagious a practice by a particular sta- 
tute 1 *. Hence it seems likely, that so popular an entertainment as their 
poetry gained ground; especially if we consider, that in their expeditions 
against England they were of course attended by many northern scalds, 
who constantly made a part of their military retinue, and whose lan- 
guage was understood by the Saxons. Rogwald lord of the Orcades, 
who was also himself a poet, going on an expedition into Palestine, car- 
ried with him two Islandic bards' 1 . The noble ode, called in the north- 
ern chronicles the ELOGIUM OF HACON r , king of Norway, was com- 
posed on a battle in which that prince with eight of his brothers fell, 

p See Lambarde's Archaionom. And 
Bartholin. ii. c. xii. p. 542. 

q Ol. Worm. Lit. Run. p. 195. ed. 1636. 

* In this ode are these very sublime 
imageries and prosopopoeias. 

" The goddesses who preside over bat- 
tles come, sent forth by Odin. They go to 
choose among the princes of the illustrious 
race of Yngvon a man who is to perish, 
and to go to dwell in the palace of the 

" Gondula leaned on the end of her lance, 
and thus bespoke her companions. The 
assembly of the gods is going to be increa- 
sed: the gods invite Hacon, with his nu- 
merous host, to enter the palace of Odin." 

" Thus spake these glorious nymphs of 
war : who were seated on their horses, who 
were covered with their shields and hel- 
mets, and appeared full of some great 

" Hacon heard their discourse. Why, 
said he, why hast thou thus disposed of the 
battle ? Were we not worthy to have ob- 
tained of the gods a more perfect victory ? 
It is we, she replied, who have given it thee. 
It is we who have put thine enemies to 

"Now, added she, let us push forward 
our steeds across those green worlds, which 
are the residence of the gods. Let us go 
tell Odin that the king is coming to visit 
him in his palace." 

"When Odin heard this news, he said, 
Hermode and Brago, my sons, go to meet 
the king: a king, admired by all men for 
his valour, approaches to our hall." 

"At length king Hacon approaches ; and 
arriving from the battle is still all be- 

sprinkled and runningdown with blood. At 
the sight of Odin, he cries out, Ah ! how 
severe and terrible does this god appear to 

"The hero Brago replies, Come, thou 
that wast the terror of the bravest warriors : 
Come hither, and rejoin thine eight bro- 
thers : the heroes who reside here shall 
live with thee in peace : Go, drink Ale in 
the circle of heroes." 

"But this valiant king exclaims, I will 
still keep my arms : a warrior ought care- 
fully to preserve his mail and helmet : it 
is dangerous to be a moment without the 
spear in one's hand." 

" The wolf Fenris shall burst his chains 
and dart with rage upon his enemies, before 
so brave a king shall again appear upon 
earth," &c. 

Snorron. Hist. Reg. Sept.i. p. 163. This 
ode was written so early as the year 960. 
There is a great variety and boldness in 
the transitions. An action is carried on by 
a set of the most awful ideal personages, 
finely imagined. The goddesses of battle, 
Odin, his sons Hermode and Brago, and 
the spectre of the deceased king, are all in- 
troduced, speaking and acting as in adrama. 
The panegyric is nobly conducted, and 
arises out of the sublimity of the fiction. 

[A somewhat different version of the 
above ode is printed in Percy's Five Runic 
pieces. By the wolf Fenris, he observes, 
the northern nations understood a kind of 
demon, or evil principle, at enmity with 
the gods, who though at present chained 
up from doing mischief, was hereafter to 
break loose and destroy the world. See 
F.dda. PARK.] 


by the scald Eyvynd ; who for his superior skill in poetry was called the 
CROSS OF POETS, [Eyvindr Skalldaspillir*,] and fought in the battle 
which he celebrated. Hacon earl of Norway was accompanied by five 
celebrated bards in the battle of Jomsburgh : and we are told, that each 
of them sung an ode to animate the soldiers before the engagement 
began 9 . They appear to have been regularly brought into action. Olave, 
a king of Norway, when his army was prepared for the onset, placed 
three scalds about him, and exclaimed aloud, " You shall not only record 
in your verses what you have HEARD, but what you have SEEN." They 
each delivered an ode on the spot*. These northern chiefs appear to 
have so frequently hazarded their lives with such amazing intrepidity, 
merely in expectation of meriting a panegyric from their poets, the 
judges, and the spectators of their gallant behaviour. That scalds were 
common in the Danish armies when they invaded England, appears from 
a stratagem of Alfred ; who, availing himself of his skill in oral poetry and 
playing on the harp, entered the Danish camp habited in that character, 
and procured a hospitable reception. This was in the year 878 u . An- 
lafff , a Danish king, used the same disguise for reconnoitring the camp 
of our Saxon monarch Athelstan : taking his station near Athelstan's 
pavilion, he entertained the king and his chiefs with his verses and music, 
and was dismissed with an honourable reward w . As Anlaff's dialect 
must have discovered him to have been a Dane ; here is a proof, of what 
I shall bring more, that the Saxons, even in the midst of mutual hos- 
tilities, treated the Danish scalds with favour and respect. That the Is- 
landic bards were common in England during the Danish invasions, 
there are numerous proofs. Egill, a celebrated Islandic poet, having 
' murthered the son and many of the friends of Eric Blodoxe, king of 
Denmark or Norway, then residing in Northumberland, and which he 
had just conquered, procured a pardon by singing before the king, at 
the command of his queen Gunhilde, an extemporaneous ode x . Egill 
compliments the king, who probably was his patron, with the appellation 
of the English chief. " I offer my freight to the king. I owe a poem 
for my ransom. I present to the ENGLISH CHIEF the mead of Odin y ." 
Afterwards he calls this Danish conqueror the commander of the Scot- 
tish fleet. " The commander of the Scottish fleet fattened the ravenous 

* [Skalldaspillir, poetarum alpha, cui w Malmesb. ii. 6. I am aware, that the 

omnesinvidentpoetae.] truth of both these anecdotes respecting 

s Bartholin. p. 172. Alfred and Anlaff has been controverted. 

1 Olaf. Sag. apud Verel. ad Herv. Sag. But no sufficient argument has yet been 

p. 178. Bartholin. p. 172. offered for pronouncing them spurious, or 

u Ingulph. Hist. p. 869. Malmesb. ii. c even suspicious. See an ingenious Dis- 
ci. 4. p. 43. sertation in the Archaeologia, vol. ii. p. 

f [This is the same Anlaff mentioned 100. seq. A. D. 1773. 4to. 

above, p. xxxi. Though of Danish de- x See Crymogr. Angrim. Jon. lib. ii. p. 

scent, yet as his family had possessed the 125. edit. 1609. 

throne of North-humbria for more than y See Ol. Worm. Lit. Run. p. 227. 195. 

one generation, it is most probable that he All the chiefs of Eric were also present at 

spoke the dialect of his province or what the recital of this ode, which is in a noble 

Hickes calls the Dano-Saxon. PHICE.] strain. 

c c 2 


birds. The sister of Nera [Death] trampled on the foe: she trampled 
on the evening food of the eagle." The Scots usually joined the Danish 
or Norwegian invaders in their attempts on the northern parts of Britain 7 -: 
and from this circumstance a new argument arises, to show the close 
communication and alliance which must have subsisted between Scot- 
land and Scandinavia. Egill, although of the enemy's party *, was a 
singular favourite of king Athelstan. Athelstan once asked Egill how 
he escaped due punishment from Eric Blodoxe, the king of North- 
umberland, for the very capital and enormous crime which I have just 
mentioned. On which Egill immediately related the whole of that trans- 
action to the Saxon king, in a sublime ode still extant 3 . On another 
occasion Athelstan presented Egill with two rings, and two large cabi- 
nets filled with silver; promising at the same time, to grant him any gift 
or favour which he should choose to request. Egill, struck with grati- 
tude, immediately composed a panegyrical poem in the Norwegian lan- 
guage, then common to both nations, on the virtues of Athelstan, 
which the latter as generously requited with two marcs of pure gold b . 
Here is likewise another argument, that the Saxons had no small esteem 
for the scaldic poetry. It is highly reasonable to conjecture, that our 
Danish king Canute, a potentate of most extensive jurisdiction, and not 
only king of England, but of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, was not 
without the customary retinue of the northern courts, in which the 
scalds held so distinguished and important a station. Human nature, 
in a savage state, aspires to some species of merit, and in every stage of 
society is alike susceptible of flattery, when addressed to the reigning 
passion. The sole object of these northern princes was military glory. 
It is certain that Canute delighted in this mode of entertainment, which 
lie patronized and liberally rewarded. It is related in KNYTLINGA-SAGA, 
or Canute's History, that he commanded the scald Loftunga to be put to 
death, for daring to comprehend his achievements in too concise a 
poem. " Nemo," said he, " ante te, ausus est de me BREVES CANTILENAS 
componere." A curious picture of the tyrant, the patron, and the bar- 
barian, united ! But the bard extorted a speedy pardon, and with much 
address, by producing the next day before the king at dinner an ode of 
more than thirty strophes, for which Canute gave him fifty marcs of 
purified silver c . In the mean time, the Danish language began to grow 

56 See the Saxon epinicion in praise of p. 169, 170. See Knytlinga-Saga, in 

king Athelstan. supr. citat. p. xxxi. Hen. Catal. Codd. MSS. Bibl. Holm. Hickes. 

Hunting. 1. v. p, 203. 204. Thesaur. ii. 312. 

* [Egill fought on Athelstan's side, and [Canute's threat for he did not " corn- 
did signal service in the battle at Brunan- maud the scald to be put to death" is 
burh. PRICE.] thus translated by Mr. Turner : "Are you 

B Torfeus Hist. Oread. Praefat. " Rei not ashamed to do what none but your- 

statim ordinem metro nunc satis obscuro self has dared, to write a short poem upon 

exposuit." Torfseus adds, which is much me ? Unless by to-morrow's dinner you 

to our purpose, " nequaquam ita narraturus produce above thirty strophes on the same 

NON INTELLIGENTI." subject, your head shall be the penalty." 

b Crymog. Am. Jon. p. 129. ut supr. Hist, of Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. p. 437. The 

F Bartholin. Antiquit. Danic. lib. i. c. 10. result was as Warton states. PRICE.] 


perfectly familiar in England. It was eagerly learned by the Saxon 
clergy and nobility, from a principle of ingratiating themselves with 
Canute : and there are many manuscripts now remaining, by which it 
will appear, that the Danish runes were much studied among our Saxon 
ancestors under the reign of that monarch d . 

The songs of the Irish bards are by some conceived to be strongly 
marked with the traces of scaldic imagination ; and these traces, which 
will be reconsidered, are believed still to survive among a species of 
poetical historians, whom they call TALE-TELLERS, supposed to be the 
descendants of the original Irish bards 6 . A writer of equal elegance and 
veracity relates, " that a gentleman of the north of Ireland has told me 
of his own experience, that in his wolf-huntings there, when he used to 
be abroad in the mountains three or four days together, and laid very 
ill a-nights, so as he could not well sleep, they would bring him one of 
these TALE-TELLERS, that when he lay down would begin a story of a 
KING, or a GYANT, a DWARF, and a DAMOSEL*?' These are topics in 
which the Runic poetry is said to have been greatly conversant. 

Nor is it improbable that the Welsh bards * might have been ac- 

d Hickes, ubi supr. i. 134.136. 

e We are informed by the Irish histo- 
rians, that saint Patrick, when he convert- 
ed Ireland to the Christian faith, destroyed 
three hundred volumes of the songs of the 
Irish bards. Such was their dignity in 
this country, that they were permitted to 
w.ear a robe of the same colour with that 
of the royal family. They were constantly 
summoned to a triennial festival : and the 
most approved songs delivered at this as- 
sembly were ordered to be preserved in 
the custody of the king's historian or an- 
tiquary. Many of these compositions are 
referred to by Keating, as the foundation 
of his History of Ireland. Ample estates 
were apropriated to them, that they might 
live in a condition of independence and 
ea>e. The profession was hereditary; but 
when a bard died, his estate devolved not 
to his eldest son, but to such of his family 
as discovered the most distinguished ta- 
lents for poetry and music. Every prin- 
cipal bard retained thirty of inferior note, 
as his attendants; and a bard of the se- 
condary class was followed by a retinue of 
fifteen. They seem to have been at their 
height in the year 558. See Keating's 
History of Ireland, p. 127. 132. 370. 380. 
And Pref. p. 23. None of their poems 
have been translated. 

There is an article in the LAWS of Ke- 
neth king of Scotland, promulged in the 
year 850, which places the bards of Scot- 
land, who certainly were held in equal es- 
teem with those of the neighbouring coun- 
tries, in the lowest station. "Fugitivos, 
BARDOS, otio addictos, scurras et hujus- 

modi hominum genus, loris et flagris cae- 
dunto." Apud Hector. Boeth. Lib. x.p.201. 
edit. 1574. But Salmasius very justly ob- 
serves, that for BARDOS we should read 
VARGOS, or VERGOS, i. e. Vagabonds. 

[Such, said the late ingenious Mr. 
Walker, was the celebrity of the Irish mu- 
sic, that the Welsh bards condescended to 
receive instructions in their musical art 
from those of Ireland. Gryffydd ap Co- 
nan, king of North Wales, about the time 
that Stephen was king of England, deter- 
mined to reform the Welsh bards, and 
brought over many Irish bards for that 
purpose. This Gryffydd, according to the 
intelligent Mr. Owen, was a distinguished 
patron of the poets and musicians of his 
native country, and called several con- 
gresses, wherein laws were established for 
the better regulation of poetry and music, 
as well as of such as cultivated those sci- 
ences. These congresses were open to the 
people of Wales, as well as of Ireland and 
Scandinavia, and professors from each 
country attended : whence what was found 
peculiar to one people, and worthy of adop- 
tion, was received and established in the 
rest. Hist. Mem. of Irish Bards, p, 103> 
Cambrian Biogr. p. 145. PARK.] 

f Sir W. Temple's Essays, part iv. p, 

s The bards of Britain were originally 
a constitutional appendage of the druidical 
hierarchy. In the parish of Llanjdan in 
the isle of Anglesey, there are still to be 
seen in the ruins of an arch-druid's man- 
sion, which they call TRER DREW, that is 
the DRUID'S MANSION, Near it are mark* 



quainted with the Scandinavian scalds. I mean before their communi- 
cations with Armorica, mentioned at large above. The prosody of the 
Welsh bards depended much on alliteration h . Hence they seem to have 
paid an attention to the scaldic versification. The Islandic poets are said 
to have carried alliteration to the highest pitch of exactness in their 
earliest periods ; whereas the Welsh bards of the sixth century used it 
but sparingly, and in a very imperfect degree. In this circumstance a 
proof of imitation, at least of emulation, is implied *. There are moreover 
strong instances of conformity between the manners of the two nations ; 
which, however, may be accounted for on general principles arising from 
our comparative observations on rude life. Yet it is remarkable that 
mead, the northern nectar, or favourite liquor of the Goths k , who seem to 
have stamped it with the character of a poetical drink, was no less cele- 
brated among the Welsh 1 . The songs of both nations abound with its 
praises; and it seems in both to have been alike the delight of the warrior 
and the bard. Taliessin, as Lhuyd informs us, wrote a panegyrical ode 
on this inspiring beverage of the bee ; or, as he translates it, De Mulso 

of the habitations of the separate conven- 
tual societies, which were under his imme- 
diate orders and inspection. Among these is 
TRER BEIRD, or, as they call it to this day, 
the HAMLET OF THE BARDS. Rowland's 
Mona, p. 83. 88. But so strong was the 
attachment of the Celtic nations, among 
which we reckon Britain, to poetry, that, 
amidst all the changes of government and 
manners, even long after the order of 
Druids was extinct,and the national religion 
altered, the bards, acquiring a sort of civil 
capacity, and a new establishment, still 
continued to flourish. And with regard to 
Britain, the bards flourished most in those 
parts of it which most strongly retained 
their native Celtic character. The Britons 
living in those countries that were between 
the Trent or Humber and the Thames, by 
far the greatest portion of this island, in 
the midst of the Roman garrisons and co- 
lonies, had been so long inured to the 
customs of the Romans, that they preserved 
very little of the British; and from this 
long and habitual intercourse, before the 
fifth century, they seem to have lost their 
original language. We cannot discover 
the slightest trace, in the poems of the 
bards, the Lives of the British saints, or 
any other ancient monument, that they 
held any correspondence with the Welsh, 
the Cornish, the Cumbrian, or the Strath- 
cluyd Britons. Among other British in- 
stitutions grown obsolete among them, they 
seem to have lost the use of bards ; at least 
there are no memorials of any they had, 
nor any of their songs remaining: nor do 
the Welsh or Cumbrian poets ever touch 
upon any transactions that passed in those 

countries, after they were relinquished by 
the Romans. 

And here we see the reason why the 
Welsh bards flourished so much and so 
long. But moreover the Welsh, kept in 
awe as they were by the Romans, harassed 
by the Saxons, and eternally jealous of the 
attacks, the encroachments, and the neigh- 
bourhood of aliens, were on this account 
attached to their Celtic manners : this si- 
tuation, and these circumstances inspired 
them with a pride and an obstinacy for 
maintaining a national distinction, and for 
preserving their ancient usages, among 
which the bardic profession is so eminent. 

h See vol. ii. p. 106. note". 

* I am however informed by a very in- 
telligent antiquary in British literature, 
that there are manifest marks of allitera- 
tion in some druidical fragments still re- 
maining, undoubtedly composed before the 
Britons could have possibly mixed in the 
smallest degree with any Gothic nation. 
Rhyme is likewise found in the British 
poetry at the earliest period, in those dru- 
idical triplets called ENGLYN MILWR, or 
the WARRIOR'S SoNG,in which every verse 
is closed with a consonant syllable. See 
a metrical Druid oracle in Borlase's An- 
tiquit. Cornwall. B. iii. ch. 5. p. 185. edit. 

k And of the ancient Franks. Gre- 
gory of Tours mentions a Frank drinking 
this liquor; and adds, that he acquired 
this habit from the BARBAROUS or Frank- 
ish nations. Hist. Franc, lib. viii. c. 33. 
p. 404. ed. 1699. Paris, fol. 

1 See vol.ii. p. 195. 


seu HYDROMELI k . In Hoel Dha's Welsh laws, translated by Wotton, we 
have, "In omni convivio in quo MULSUM bibitur 1 ." From which pas- 
sage, it seems to have been served up only at high festivals. By the 
same constitutions, at every feast in the king's castle-hall, the prefect or 
marshal of the hall is to receive from the queen, by the hands of the 
steward, a HORN OF MEAD. It is also ordered, among the privileges an- 
nexed to the office of prefect of the royal-hall, that the king's bard shall 
sing to him as often as he pleases m . One of the stated officers of the 
king's household is CONFECTOR MULSI : and this officer, together with 
the master of the horse n , the master of the hawks, the smith of the pa- 
lace , the royal bard?, the first musician 4, with some others, have a right 

k Tanner Bibl. p. 706. 

1 Leg. Wall. L. i. cap. xxiv. p. 45. 

m Ibid. L.i. cap.xii. p. 17. 

n When the king makes a present of a 
horse, this officer is to receive a fee ; but 
not when the present is made to a bishop, 
the master of the hawks, or to the Mimus. 
The latter is exempt, on account of the 
entertainment he afforded the court at 
being presented with a horse by the king: 
the horse is to be led out of the hall with 
capistrum testiculis alUgatum. Ibid. L. i. 
cap. xvii. p. 31. MIMUS seems here to 
be a MIMIC, or a gesticulator. Carpentier 
mentions a " JOCULATOR qui sciebat 
TOMBARE, to tumble" Gang. Lat. Gloss. 
Suppl. Verb. TOMBARE. In the Saxon 
canons given by king Edgar, about the 
year 9GO, it is ordered, that no priest shall 
be a POET, or exercise the MIMICAL or 
histrionical art in any degree, either in 
public or private. Can. 58. Concil. Spel- 
man, tpm.i. p. 455. edit. 1639. fol. In 
Edgar's Oration to Dunstan, the Ml Ml, 
Minstrels, are said to sing and dance. 
Ibid. p. 477. Much the same injunction 
occurs in the Saxon Laws of the North- 
umbrian Priests, given in 988. Cap. 
xli. ibid. p. 498. MIMUS seems some- 
times to have signified THE FOOL. As 
in Gregory of Tours, speaking of the 
MIMUS of Miroakingof Gallicia: " Erat 
enim MIMUS REGIS, qui ei per VETCBA 
JOCULARIA LiETixiAM erat solitus EX- 
CITARE. Sed non cum adjuvit aliquis 
CACHINNUS, neque praestigiis artis suae," 
&c. Gregor. Turonens. Miracul. S. Mar- 
tin, lib. iv. cap. vii. p. 1119. Opp. Paris. 
1699. fol. edit. Ruinart. 

He is to work free : except for ma- 
king the king's caldron, the iron bands, 
and other furniture for his castle- gate, 
and the iron-work for his mills. Leg. 
Wall. L. i. cap. xliv. p. 67. 

p By these constitutions, given about 
the year 940, (he bard of the Welsh 
kings is a domestic officer. The king is 
to allow him a horse and a woollen 

robe ; and the queen a linen garment. 
The prefect of the palace, or governor of 
the castle, is privileged to sit next him in 
the hall, on the three principal feast days, 
and to put the harp into his hand. On 
the three feast days he is to have the 
steward's robe for a fee. He i* to at- 
tend, if the queen desires a song in her 
chamber. An ox or cow is to be given 
out of the booty or prey (chiefly consisting 
of cattle) taken from the English by the 
king's domestics : and while the prey is 
dividing, he is to sing the praises of the 
the king's domestics go out to make de- 
predations, he sings or plays before them, 
he is to receive the best bullock. When 
the king's army is in array, he is to sing 
the Song of the BRITISH KINGS. When 
invested with his office, the king is to give 
him a harp, (other constitutions say a chess- 
board,) and the queen a ring of gold: nor 
is he to give away the harp on any ac- 
count. When he goes out of the palace 
to sing with other bards, he is to receive a 
double portion of the largesse or gratuity. 
If he ask a gift or favour of the king, he 
is to be fined by singing an ode or poem; 
if of a nobleman or chief, three ; if of a 
vassal, he is to sing him to sleep. Leg. 
Wall. L. i. cap. xix. p. 35. Mention is 
made of the bard who gains the CHAIR in 
the hall. Ibid. Artie. 5. After a con- 
test of bards in the hall, the bard who 
gains the chair, is to give the JUDGE OF 
THE HALL, another officer, a horn, (cornu 
bubalinum) a ring, and the cushion of his 
chair. Ibid. L. i. cap. xvi. p. 26. When 
the king rides out of his castle, five bards 
are to accompany him. Ibid. L. i. cap. viii. 
p. 1 1. The Cornu Bubalinum may be ex- 
plained from a passage in a poem, com- 
posed about the year 1160, by Owain 
Cyveiliog, prince of Powis, which he en- 
titled HIRLAS, from a large drinking-horn 
so called, used at feasts in his castle-hall. 
" Pour out, O cup-bearer, sweet and plea- 
sant mead (the spear is red in the time of 


to be r seated in the hall. We have already seen, that the Scandinavian 
scalds were well known in Ireland : and there is sufficient evidence to 
prove, that the Welsh bards were early connected with the Irish. Even 
so late as the eleventh century, the practice continued among the Welsh 
bards, of receiving instructions in the bardic profession from Ireland. 
The Welsh bards were reformed and regulated by GryfFyth ap Conan, 
king of Wales, in the year 1078. At the same time he brought over 
with him from Ireland many Irish bards, for the information and im- 
provement of the Welsh 9 . Powell acquaints us, that this prince " brought 
over with him from Ireland divers cunning musicians into Wales, who 
devised in a manner all the instrumental music that is now there used : 
as appeareth, as well by the bookes written of the same, as also by the 
names of the tunes and measures used among them to this daieV In 
Ireland, to kill a bard was highly criminal : and to seize his estate, even 
for the public service and in time of national distress, was deemed an act 
of sacrilege u . Thus in the old Welsh laws, whoever even slightly injured 
a bard, was to be fined six cows and one hundred and twenty pence. The 
murtherer of a bard was to be fined one hundred and twenty-six cows w . 
Nor must I pass over, what reflects much light on this reasoning, that the 
establishment of the household of the old Irish chiefs exactly resembles 
that of the Welsh kings. For, besides the bard, the musician, and the 
smith, they have both a physician, a huntsman, and other corresponding 
officers *. We must also remember, that an intercourse was necessarily 

need) from the horns of wild oxen, RipuariorumetWesinorum. Lindenbroch. 

covered with gold, to the souls of those Cod. LL. Antiq. Wisigoth. etc. A.D. 613. 

departed heroes." Evans, p. 12. Tit. 5. ult. 

By these laws the king's harp is to be The caliphs, and other eastern potent- 
worth one hundred and twenty pence ; ates, had their bards, whom they treated 
but that of a gentleman, or one not a with equal respect. Sir John Maunde- 
vassal, sixty pence. The king's chess- ville, who travelled in 1340, says, that 
board is valued at the same price : and when the emperor of Cathay, or great 
the instrument for fixing or tuning the Cham of Tartary, is seated at dinner in 
strings of the king's harp, at twenty-four high pomp with his lords, " no man is so 
pence. His drinking-horn, at one pound. hardi to speak to him except it be Musi- 
Ibid. L. iii. cap. vii. p. 265. CIANS to solace the emperor." chap. Ixvii. 

' There are two musicians: the Mu- p. 100. Here is another proof of the cor- 

sicus 1'niMARius, who probably was a respondence between the eastern and 

teacher, and certainly a superintendent northern customs : and this instance might 

over the rest; and the HALL-MUSICIAN. be brought as an argument of the bardic 

Leg. ut supr. L. i. cap. xlv. p. 68. institution being fetched from the east. 

T " Jus cathedrae." Ibid. L. i. cap. x. Leo Afer mentions thePoeto curia: of the 

p. 13. Caliph's court at Bagdad, about the year 

See Selden, Drayt. Polyolb. S. ix. 990. De Med. et Philos. Arab. cap. iv. 
pag. 156. S. iv. pag. 67. edit. 1613. fol. Those poets were in most repute among 

* Hist, of Cambr. p. 191. edit. 1584. the Arabians, who could speak extempo- 
" Keating's Hist. Ireland, pag. 132. raneous verses to the Caliph. Euseb. Re- 
w Leg. Wall, ut supr. L. i. cap. xix. naudot. apud Fabric. Bibl. Gr. xiii. p. 

pag. 35. seq. See also cap. xlv. p. 68. 249. Thomson, in the Castle of Indo- 

We find the same respect paid to the lence, mentions the BARD IN WAITING 

bard in other constitutions. " Qui HAR- being introduced to lull the Caliph asleep. 

PATOREM, &c. Whoever shall strike a And Maundeville mentions MINSTKELLES 

HARPER who can harp in a public assem- as established officers in the court of the 

bly, shall compound with him by a com- emperor of Cathay, 
position of four times more, than for any x See Temple, ubi supr. p. 346. 

other man of the same condition." Legg. 


produced between the Welsh and Scandinavians from the piratical ir- 
ruptions of the latter : their scalds, as I have already remarked, were 
respected and patronised in the courts of those princes, whose territories 
were the principal objects of the Danish invasions. Torfaeus expressly 
affirms this of the Anglo-Saxon arid Irish kings ; and it is at least pro- 
bable, that they were entertained with equal regard by the Welsh princes, 
who so frequently concurred with the Danes in distressing the English. 
It may be added, that the Welsh, although living in a separate and de- 
tached situation, and so strongly prejudiced in favour of their own usages, 
yet from neighbourhood, and unavoidable communications of various 
kinds, might have imbibed the ideas of the Scandinavian bards from the 
Saxons and Danes, after those nations had occupied and overspread all 
the other parts of our island. 

Many pieces of the Scottish bards are still remaining in the highlands 
of Scotland. Of these a curious specimen, and which considered in a 
more extensive and general respect, is a valuable monument of the poetry 
of a rude period, has lately been given to the world, under the title of 
the WORKS OF OSSIAN. It is indeed very remarkable, that in these 
poems, the terrible graces, which so naturally characterise, and so ge- 
nerally constitute, the early poetry of a barbarous people, should so 
frequently give place to a gentler set of manners, to the social sensi- 
bilities of polished life, and a more civilised and elegant species of 
imagination. Nor is this circumstance, which disarranges all our 
established ideas concerning the savage stages of society, easily to be 
accounted for, unless we suppose, that the Celtic tribes, who were so 
strongly addicted to poetical composition, and who made it so much 
their study from the earliest times, might by degrees have attained a 
higher vein of poetical refinement, than could at first sight or on com- 
mon principles be expected among nations, whom we are accustomed to 
call barbarous ; that some few instances of an elevated strain of friend- 
ship, of love, and other sentimental feelings, existing in such nations, 
might lay the foundation for introducing a set of manners among the 
bards, more refined and exalted than the real manners of the country ; 
and that panegyrics on those virtues, transmitted with improvements from 
bard to bard, must at length have formed characters of ideal excellence, 
which might propagate among the people real manners bordering on the 
poetical. These poems, however, notwithstanding the difference between 
the Gothic and the Celtic rituals, contain many visible vestiges of Scan- 
dinavian superstition. The allusions in the songs of Ossian to spirits, 
who preside over the different parts and direct the various operations of 
nature, who send storms over the deep, and rejoice in the shrieks of the 
shipwrecked mariner, who call down lightning to blast the forest or 
cleave the rock, and diffuse irresistible pestilence among the people, 
beautifully conducted indeed, and heightened, under the skilful hand of 
a master bard, entirely correspond with the Runic system, and breathe 
the spirit of its poetry. One fiction in particular, the most EXTRAVA- 
GANT in all O^sian's poems, is founded on an essential article of the 



Runic belief. It is where Fingal fights with the spirit of Loda. 
Nothing could aggrandise Fingal's heroism more highly than this 
marvellous encounter. It was esteemed among the ancient Danes the 
most daring act of courage to engage with a ghost y. Had Ossian found 
it convenient to have introduced religion into his compositions 2 , not 
only a new source had been opened to the sublime, in describing the 
rites of sacrifice, the horrors of incantation, the solemn evocations of 
infernal beings, and the like dreadful superstitions, but probably many 
stronger and more characteristical evidences would have appeared, of 
his knowledge of the imagery of the Scandinavian poets. 

Nor must we forget, that the Scandinavians had conquered many 
countries bordering upon France in the fourth century*. Hence the 
Franks must have been in some measure used to their language, well 
acquainted with their manners, and conversant in their poetry. Charle- 
magne is said to have delighted in repeating the most ancient and 
barbarous odes, which celebrated the battles of ancient kings b . But we 

y Bartholin. De Contemptu Mortis 
apud Dan. L. ii. c. 2. p. 258. And ibid, 
p. 260. There are many other marks of 
Gothic customs and superstitions in Ossian. 
The fashion of marking the sepulchres of 
their chiefs with circles of stones, corre- 
sponds with what Olaus Wormius relates 
of the Danes. Monum. Danic. Hafn. 1634. 
p. 38. See also Ol. Magn. Hist. xvi. 
2. In the Hervarar Sega, the sword of 
Suarfulama is forged by the dwarfs, and 
called Tirfing. Hick es, vol. i. p. 193. So 
Fingal's sword was made by an enchanter, 
and was called the SON of LUNO. And, 
what is more, this Luno was the Vulcan 
of the north, lived in Juteland, and made 
complete suits of armour for many of the 
Scandinavian heroes. See Temora, B. vii. 
p. 159. Ossian, vol. ii. edit. 1765. Hence 
the bards of both countries made him a 
celebrated enchanter. By the way, the 
names of sword-smiths were thought 
worthy to be recorded in history. Hove- 
den says, that when Geoffrey of Planta- 
genet was knighted, they brought him a 
sword from the royal treasure, where it 
had been laid up from old times, " being 
the workmanship of Galan, the most ex- 
cellent of all sword-smiths." Hoved. f.444. 
ii. Sect. 50. The mere mechanic, who is 
only mentioned as a skilful artist in hi- 
story, becomes a magician or a preter- 
natural being in romance. 

[The sword-smith here recorded, is the 
hero of the Volundar-quitha in Saemund's 
Edda. He is called Weland in the poem 
of Beowulf; Welond by king Alfred in 
his translation of Boethius ; and Guielan- 
dus by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Mr. Ellis 
affirms that he is also spoken of in the 
Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. This 
has escaped me ; but it is to this circum- 
stance, perhaps, that we are indebted for 

the introduction of his name in the novel 
of Kenilworth. PRICE.] 

[The preposterous introduction of this 
venerable mythic personage into a novel, 
the time of which is laid in the reign of Eli- 
zabeth, may be ascribed to Scott's eagerness 
to turn every thing thriftily to^eccount in 
his wholesale literary manufactory. R.T.] 

[See on the subject of the Smith Ve- 
lant, an article by G. B. Depping, in the 
New Monthly Magazine for 1822, p. 527, 
and the same paper very much augmented 
in " Veland le Forgeron ; Dissertation sur 
une tradition du moyen age ; par G. B. 
Depping et Francisque Michel." 8vo. Par. 
1833. M.] 

z This perplexing and extraordinary 
circumstance, I mean the absence of all 
religious ideas from the poems of Ossian, 
is accounted for by Mr. Macpherson with 
much address. See Dissertation prefixed, 
vol.i. p. viii. ix. edit. 1765. See also the 
elegant critical Dissertation of the very 
judicious Dr. Blair, vol. ii. p. 379. 

a Hickes. Thes. i. part ii. p. 4. 

b Eginhart. cap. viii. n. 34. Bartholin. 
i. c. 10. p. 154. Diodorus Siculus says, 
that the Gauls, who were Celts, delivered 
the spoils won in battle, yet reeking with 
blood, to their attendants : these were 
carried in triumph, while an epinicial 
song was chanted, Traiavi^o vres Kai adov- 
res vp,vov GTTIVIKIOV. Lib. v. p. 352. See 
also p. 308. " The Celts," says ^lian, 
" I hear, are the most enterprising of men : 
they make those warriors who die bravely 
in fight the subject of songs, rwv Aer/ta- 
Twv." Var. Hist. Lib. xxii. c. 23. Posi- 
donius gives us a specimen of the manner 
of a Celtic bard. He reports, that Luer- 
nius, a Celtic chief, was accustomed, out 
of a desire of popularity, to gather crowds 
of his people together, and to throw them 


are not informed whether these were Scandinavian, Celtic, or Teutonic 

gold and silver from his chariot. Once 
he was attended at a sumptuous banquet 
by one of their bards, who received in 
reward for his song a purse of gold. On 
this the bard renewed his song, adding, 
to express his patron's excessive gene- 
rosity, this hyperbolical panegyric : " The 
earth over which his chariot-wheels pass, 
instantly brings forth gold and precious 
gifts to enrich mankind." Athen. vi. 184. 
Tacitus says, that Arminius, the con- 
queror of Varus, " is yet sung among the 
barbarous nations." That is, probably 
among the original Germans. Annal. ii. 
And Mor. Germ. ii. 3. Joannes Aventinus, 
a Bavarian, who wrote about the year 
1520, has a curious passage, " A great 
number of verses in praise of the virtues 
of Attila, are still extant among us, pa- 
trio sermone more majorum perscripta." 
Annal. Boior. L. ii. p. 130. edit. 1627. 
He immediately adds, " Nam et adhuc 
VULGO CANITUR, et est popularibus 
nostris, etsi LITERARUM RUDIBUS, no- 
tissimus." Again, speaking of Alexander 
the Great, he says, " Boios eidem bellum 
BUS." ibid. Lib. i. p. 25. Concerning 
king Brennus, says the same historian, 
" Carmina vernaculo sermone facta legi in 
bibliothecis." ibid. Lib.i. p. 16. and p.26. 
And again, of Ingeram, Adalogerion, and 
others of their ancient heroes, " Ingerami 
et Adalogerionis nomina frequentissime 
in fastis referuntur; ipsos, more majorum, 
antiquis proavi celebrarunt carminibus, 
quae in bibliothecis extant. Subsequuntur, 
quos patrio sermone adhuc canimus, La- 
ertes atque Ulysses." ibid. Lib. i. p. 15. 
The same historian also relates, that his 
countrymen had a poetical history called 
the Book of Heroes, containing the 
achievements of the German warriors, 
ibid. Lib.i. p. 18. See also ibid. Lib.vii. 
p. 432. Lib. i. p. 9. And many other pas- 
sages to this purpose. [The reader who 
is desirous of further information on this 
copious subject, may consult Mr. von der 
Hagen's republication of the " Helden- 
buch," or his " Grundriss zur Geschichte 
der Deutschen Poesie." PRICE.] Suffri- 
dus Petrus cites some old Frisian rhymes, 
De Orig. Frisior. 1. iii. c. 2. Compare 
Robertson's Hist. Charles V. vol.i. p. 235. 
edit. 1772. From Trithemius a German 
abbot and historian, who wrote about 
1 490, we learn, that among the ancient 
Franks and Germans, it was an exercise in 
the education of youth, for them to learn 
to repeat and to sing verses of the 
achievements of their heroes. Compend. 

Annal. L. i. p. 11. edit. Francof. 1601. 
Probably these were the poems which 
Charlemagne is said to have committed 
to memory. 

The most ancient Theotisc or Teutonic 
ode I know, is an Epinicion published by 
Schilter, in the second volume of his 
Thesaurus Antiquilatum Teutonicarum, 
written in the year 883. He entitles it 
EHINIKION rhythmo Teutonico Ludo- 
vico regi acclamatum cum Northmannos 
anno DCCCCXXXIII vicisset. It is in 
rhyme, and in the four-lined stanza. It 
was transcribed by Mabillon from a 
manuscript in the monastery of Saint 
Amand in Holland. I will give a spe- 
cimen from Schiller's Latin interpreta- 
tion, but not on account of the merit of 
the poetry. " The king seized his shield 
and lance, galloping hastily. He truly 
wished to revenge himself on his adver- 
saries. Nor was there a long delay : he 
found the Normans. He said, thanks be 
to God, at seeing what he desired. The 
king rushed on boldly, he first begun the 
customary song [rather, the holy song, 
lioth frono] Kyrie eleison, in which they 
all joined. The song was sung, the battle 
begun. The blood appeared in the cheeks 
of the impatient Franks. Every soldier 
took his revenge, but none like Louis. 
Impetuous, bold," &c. As to the mili- 
tary chorus Kyrie eleison, it appears to 
have been used by the Christian emperors 
before an engagement. See B.ona, Rer. 
Liturg. ii. c. 4. Vossius, Theolog. Gentil. 
i. c. 2. 3. Matth. Brouerius de Niedek, 
De Populor. vet. et recent. Adorationi- 
bus, p. 31. And among the ancient Nor- 
vegians, Erlingus Scacchius, before he 
attacked earl Sigund, commanded his 
army to pronounce this formulary aloud, 
and to strike their shields. See Dolmerus 
ad HIRD-SKRAAN, sive Jus Aulicum antiq. 
Norvegic. p. 51. p. 413. edit. Hafn. 1673. 
Engelhusius, in describing a battle with 
the Huns in the year 934, relates, that 
the Christians at the onset cried Kyrie 
eleison, but on the other side, diabolica 
vox hiu, hiu, hiu, auditur. Chronic, 
p. 1073. in torn. ii. Scriptor. Bruns. Leib- 
nit. Compare Bed. Hist. Eccles. A nglican. 
lib. ii. c. 20. And Schilterus, ubi supr. 
p. 17. And Sarbiev. Od. 1. 24. The 
Greek church appears to have had a set 
of military hymns, probably for the use 
of the soldiers, either in battle or in the 
camp. In a Catalogue of the manuscripts 
of the library of Berne, there is " Sylloge 
Tacticorum Leonis Imperatoris cui operi 
finemimponunt HYMNI MILITARES qui- 



About the beginning of the tenth century, France was invaded by 
the Normans, or NORTHERN-MEN, an army of adventurers from Nor- 
way, Denmark, and Sweden. And although the conquerors, espe- 
cially when their success does not solely depend on superiority of 
numbers, usually assume the manners of the conquered, yet these 
strangers must have still further familiarised in France many of their 
northern fictions. 

From this general circulation in these and other countries, and from 
that popularity which it is natural to suppose they must have acquired, 
the scaldic inventions might have taken deep root in Europe . At 
least they seem to have prepared the way for the more easy admission 
of the Arabian fabling about the ninth century, by which they were, 
however, in great measure, superseded. The Arabian fictions were of 
a more splendid nature, and better adapted to the increasing civility of 
the times. Less horrible and gross, they had a novelty, a variety, and 
a magnificence, which carried with them the charm of fascination. 
Yet it is probable, that many of the scaldic imaginations might have 
been blended with the Arabian. In the mean time, there is great 
reason to believe, that the Gothic scalds enriched their vein of fabling 
from this new and fruitful source of fiction, opened by the Arabians in 
Spain, and afterwards propagated by the crusades. It was in many 

bus iste titulus, Aico\ov8ia 
7Tt Ka.Tev(i)$n)(rei KO.I o-UjLt/ia^i^ errpa- 
T-OB," &c. Catal. Cod. &c. p. 600. See 
Meursius's edit, of Leo's Tactics, c. xii. 
p. 155. Lugd. Bat. 1612. .4 to. But to 
return to the main subject of this tedious 
note. Wagenseil, in a letter to Cuperus, 
mentions a treatise written by one Ernest 
Casimir Wassenback, I suppose a German, 
with this title, " De Bardis ac Barditu, 
sive antiquis Carminibus ac Cantilenis 
veterum Germanorum Dissertatio, cui 
junctus est de S. Annone Coloniensi archi- 
episcopo vetustlssimus omnium Germa- 
norum rhythmus el monumentum." See 
Polen. Supplem. Thesaur. Gronov. et 
Graev. torn. iv. p. 24. I do not think it 
was ever published. See Joach. Swabius, 
de Semnotheis veterum Germanorum phi- 
losophis. p. 8. And Sect. i. infr. p. 7. 
PeHoutier, sur la Lang. Celt. part. i. torn. i. 
ch.xii. p. 20. 

Mr Warton in this note refers to Vos- 
sius ; but that author does not speak of 
the Kyrie eleisoii as a war-cry, but merely 
as a common invocation to the Deity 
among the Christians. DOUCE.] [But 
Warton is perfectly correct as to the fact, 
though he may have misquoted his au- 
thority: " Kyrie eleison cantantes more 
fidelium militum properantium ad bel- 
lum, saliendo ingress! sunt Rhenum." 
Mirac. S. Verenae, torn. i. Sept. p. 170. 

col. 2. Carpentier in voce. Bede records 
a similar practice. " Tune subito Germa- 
nos signifer universes admonet et prsedicat, 
ut voci suse uno clamore respondeant, se- 
curisque hostibns qui se insperatos adesse 
confiderent ALLELUIA tertio repetitum 
Sacerdotes exclamabant. Sequitur una 
vox omnium et elatum clarnorem reper- 
cusso aere montium conclusa multipli- 
cant," &c. Beda, Lib. i Eccl. Hist. Anglic, 
cap. xx. But see Schiller's notes to this 
Epinicion, v. 94 ; where other authorities 
are cited. PRICE.] 

We must be careful to distinguish be- 
tween the poetry of the Scandinavians, 
the Teutonics, and the Celts. As most of 
the Celtic and Teutonic nations were early 
converted to Christianity, it is hard to find 
any of their native songs. But I must 
except the poems of Ossian, which are 
noble and genuine remains of the Celtic 

[A contrary opinion of their genuine- 
ness is now generally and with justice re- 
ceived as the true one. See Laing's 
edition of Ossian, and Adelung's Mithri- 
dates. M.] 

c Of the long continuance of the Celtic 
superstitions in the popular belief, see 
what is said in the most elegant and ju- 
dicious piece of criticism which the pre- 
sent age has produced, Mrs. Montague's 
Essay on Shakspeare, p. 145. edit. 1772. 


respects congenial to their own d : and the northern bards, who visited 
the countries where these new fancies were spreading, must have been 
naturally struck with such wonders, and were certainly fond of picking 
up fresh embellishments, and new strokes of the marvellous, for aug- 
menting and improving their stock of poetry. The earliest scald now 
on record is not before the year 750 : from which time the scalds 
flourished in the northern countries, till below the year 1157 e . The 
celebrated ode of Regner Lodbrog was composed about the end of the 
ninth century f . 

And that this hypothesis is partly true, may be concluded from the 
subjects of some of the old Scandic romances, manuscripts of which 
now remain in the royal library at Stockholm. The titles of a few 
shall serve for a specimen ; which I will make no apology for giving at 
large. " SAGAN AF HIALMTER oc OLWER. The History of Hialmter 
king of Sweden, son of a Syrian princess, and of Olver Jarl. Con- 
taining their expeditions into Hunland, and Arabia, with their numerous 
encounters with the Vikings and the giants. Also their leagues with Alsota, 
daughter of Ringer king of Arabia, afterwards married to Hervor king 

of Hunland, &c. SAGAN AF SIOD. The History of Siod, son of 

Ridgare king of England ; who first was made king of England, after- 
wards of Babylon and Niniveh. Comprehending various occurrences 
in Saxland, Babylon, Greece, Africa, and especially in Eirice* the 
region of the giants. SAGAN AF ALEFLECK. The History of Ale- 

d Besides the general wildness of the 
imagery in both, among 'other particular 
circumstances of coincidence which might 
be mentioned here, the practice of giving 
names to swords, which we find in the 
scaldic poems, occurs also among the 
Arabians. In the Hervarar Saga, the 
sword of Suarfulama is called TIRFING. 
Hickes. Thes. i. p. 193. The names of 
swords of many of the old northern chiefs 
are given us by Olaus Wormius, Lit. Run. 
cap. xix. p. 110. 4to ed. Thus, Herbelot 
recites a long catalogue of the names of 
the swords of the most famous Arabian 
and Persic warriors. V. Saif. p. 736 b. 
Mahomet had nine swords, all which are 
named ; as were also his bows, quivers, 
cuirasses, helmets, and lances. His 
swords were called The Piercing, Ruin, 
Death, &c. Mod. Univ. Hist. i. p. 253. 
This is common in the romance- writers 
and Ariosto. Mahomet's horses had also 
pompous or heroic appellations ; such as 
The Swift, The Thunderer, Shaking the 
earth with his hoof, The Red, &c. as like- 
wise his mules, asses, and camels. Horses 
were named in this manner among the 
Runic heroes. See Ol. Wurm. ut supr. 
p. 110. Odin's horse was called SLEIPNER. 
See Edda Island, fab. xxi. I could give 
other proofs ; but we have already wan- 

dered too far, in what Spenser calls, this 
delightfull londc of Faerie. Yet I must 
add, that from one, or both, of these 
sources, king Arthur's sword is named 
in Geoffrey of Monmouth. Lib. ix. cap. 
11. Ron is also the name of his lance, 
ibid. cap. 4. And Turpin calls Charle- 
magne's sword Gaudiosa. See Obs. 
Spens. i. . vi. p. 214. By the way, 
from these correspondencies, an argu- 
ment might be drawn, to prove the ori- 
ental origin of the Goths. And some 
perhaps may think them proofs of the 
doctrine just now suggested in the text, 
that the scalds borrowed from the Ara- 

[See a very curious description of 
Gaileon's sword Duransard in the ro- 
mance of " La plaisante et delectable 
Histoire de Gerileon d'Angleterre." Paris 
1572. p. 47. A sword of a most enormous 
size is related by Froissart to have been 
used by Archibald Douglas. See Lib. ii. 
c. 10. DOUCE.] 

[See also Taylor's Glory of Regality, 
p. 71. PRICE.] 

e Ol. Worm. Lit. Run. p. 241. 

f Jd. Ibid. p. 196. Vid. infr. p. xlvii. 
note . 

g In the Latin EIRIC^EA REGIONE. f. 
Erst- or Irish land. 



fleck, a king of England, and of his expeditions into India and 
Tartanj. SAG AN AF ERIK WIDFORLA. The History of Eric the 
traveller, who, with his companion Eric, a Danish prince, undertook a 
wonderful journey to Odin's Hall, or Oden's Aker, near the river Pison 
in India^" Here we see the circle of the Islandic poetry enlarged : 
and the names of countries and cities belonging to another quarter of 
the globe, Arabia, India, Tartary, Syria, Greece, Babylon, and Nini- 
veh, intermixed with those of Hunland, Sweden, and England, and 
adopted into the northern romantic narratives. Even Charlemagne 
and Arthur, whose histories, as we have already seen, had been so 
lavishly decorated by the Arabian fablers, did not escape the Scandina- 
vian scalds 1 . Accordingly we find these subjects among their Sagas. 
" SAGAN AF ERIK EINGLANDS KAPPE. The History of Eric, son of 
king Hiac, king Arthur's chief wrestler. HISTORICAL RHYMES of 

king Arthur, containing his league with Charlemagne SAGAN AF 

IVENT. The History of Ivent, king Arthur's principal champion, 

containing his battles with the giants k . SAGAN AF KARLAMAG- 

NUSE OF HOPPUM HANS. The History of Charlemagne, of his cham- 
pions, and captains. Containing all his actions in several parts. 
1. Of his birth and coronation; and the combat of Carvetus king of 
Babylon, with Oddegir the Dane 1 . 2. Of Aglandus king of Africa, 
and of his son Jatmund, and their wars in Spain with Charlemagne. 

" Wanley, apud Hickes, iii. p. 314. 

1 It is amazing how early and how uni- 
versally this fable was spread. G. de la 
Flamma says, that in the year 1339, an 
ancient tomb of a king of the Lombards 
was broke up in Italy. On his sword was 
written, " C'el est 1'espee de Meser Tris- 
tant, un qui occist 1'Amoroyt d'Yrlant." 
i. e. " This is the sword of sir Tris- 
tram, who killed Amoroyt of Ireland." 
Script. Ital. torn. xii. 1028. The Ger- 
mans are said to have some very ancient 
narrative songs on our old British heroes, 
Tristram, Gawain, and the rest of the 
knights Von der Tafel-ronde. See Gol- 
dast. Not. Vit. Carol. Magn. p. 207. edit. 

k They have also, " BRETOMANNA 
SAGA, The History of the Britons, from 
Eneas the Trojan to the emperor Con- 
stantius." Wanl. ibid. There are many 
others, perhaps of later date, relating to 
English history, particularly the history 
of William the Bastard and other chris- 
tians, in their expedition into the holy 
land. The history of the destruction of 
the monasteries in England, by William 
Rufus. Wanl. ibid. 

[It will perhaps be superfluous to re- 
mark, that all the Sagas mentioned in the 
text, are the production of an age long 

subsequent to the reign of William Rufus. 

In the history of the library at Upsal, 
I find the following articles, which are 
left to the conjectures of the curious 
enquirer. Historia Biblioth. Upsaliens. 
per Celsium. Ups. 1745. 8vo. pag. 88. 
Artie, vii. Varise Britannorum fabulae, 
quas in carmine conversas olim, atque 
in conviviis ad citharam decantari solitas 
fuisse, perhibent. Sunt autem relationes 
de GUIAMARO equite Britannise meri- 
dionalis ^Eskeliod Britannis veteribus 
dictae. De Nobilium duorum conjugibus 

gemellos enixis ; et id genus alia. 

pag. 37. Artie, v. Drama epwriKov fol. in 
membran. Res continet amatorias, olim, 
ad jocum concitandum Islandica lingua 
scriptum. ibid. Artie, vii. The history 
of Duke Julianus, son of S. Giles. Con- 
taining many things of Earl William and 
Rosamund. In the ancient Islandic. 
See Observations on the Fairy Queen, 
i. p. 203. 204. . vi. 

1 Mabillon thinks, that Turpin first 
called this hero a Dane. But this notion 
is refuted by Bartholinus, Antiq. Danic. 
ii. 13. p. 578. His old Gothic sword, 
SPATHA, and iron shield, are still pre- 
served and shown in a monastery of the 
north, Bartholin. ibid. p. 579. 


3. Of Roland, and his, combat with Villaline king of Spain. 4. Of 
Ottuel's conversion to Christianity, and his marriage with Charle- 
magne's daughter. 5. Of Hugh king of Constantinople, and the 
memorable exploits of his champions. 6. Of the wars of Ferracute 
king of Spain. 7 Of Charlemagne's achievements in Rouncevalles, 
and of his death 1 "." In another of the Sagas, Jarl, a magician of 
Saxland, .exhibits his feats of necromancy before Charlemagne. We 
learn from Olaus Magnus, that Roland's magical horn, of which arch- 
bishop Turpin relates such wonders, and among others that it might 
be heard at the distance of twenty miles, was frequently celebrated in 
the songs of the Islandic bards". It is not likely that these pieces, 
to say no more, were not composed till the Scandinavian tribes had 
been converted to Christianity ; that is, as I have before observed, 
about the close of the tenth century. These barbarians had an infinite 
and a national contempt for the Christians, whose religion inculcated a 
spirit of peace, gentleness and civility ; qualities so dissimilar to those 
of their own ferocious and warlike disposition, and which they natu- 
rally interpreted to be the marks of cowardice and pusillanimity . It 
has, however, been urged, that as the irruption of the Normans into 
France, under their leader Rollo, did not take place till towards the 
beginning of the tenth century, at which period the scaldic art was 
arrived to the highest perfection in Rollo's native country, we can 
easily trace the descent of the French and English romances of chivalry 
from the Northern Sagas. It is supposed, that Rollo carried with him 
many scalds from the north, who transmitted their skill to their chil- 
dren and successors; and that these, adopting the religion, opinions, 
and language of the new country, substituted the heroes of Christen- 
dom, instead of those of their pagan ancestors, and began to celebrate 
the feats of Charlemagne, Roland, and Oliver, whose true history they 
set off and embellished with the scaldic figments of dwarfs, giants, 
dragons, and enchantments' 1 . There is, however, some reason to be- 
lieve, that these fictions were current among the French long before ; 
and, if the principles advanced in the former part of this dissertation 
be true, the fables adhering to Charlemagne's real history must be 
referred to another source. 

Let me add, that the enchantments of the Runic poetry are very 

m Wanley, ut supr. p. 314. mall, who was said to have written it at 

n See infr. Sect.iii. p. 135. the request of Aslaug, Lodbrog's widow. 

Regner Lodbrog, in his Dying Ode, But Mr. Erichsen, the learned and ju- 

speaking of a battle fought against the dicious editor of the Royal Mirror and 

Christians, says, in ridicule of the eucha- Gunlaug Ormstunga Saga, selected this 

rist, " There we celebrated a MASS very expression (odda messu) as a proof 

[Missu, Island.~\ of weapons." of its later origin, and of the author being 

[As the narrative of this ode is couched a Christian. It is now usually assigned 

in the first person, it was for a long time to the close of the eleventh or beginning 

considered to be Regner's own produc- of the twelfth century. PRICE.] 

tion. A more sober spirit of criticism p Percy's Ess. Metr. Rom. p. viii. 
afterwards referred it to Bragi hinn ga- 


different from those in our romances of chivalry. The former chiefly 
deal in spells and charms, such as would preserve from poison, blunt 
the weapons of an enemy, procure victory, allay a tempest, cure bodily 
diseases, or call the dead from their tombs ; in uttering a form of my- 
sterious words, or inscribing Runic characters. The magicians of 
romance are chiefly employed in forming and conducting a train of 
deceptions. There is an air of barbaric horror in the incantations of 
the scaldic fablers : the magicians of romance often present visions of 
pleasure and delight ; and, although not without their alarming terrors, 
sometimes lead us through flowery, forests, and raise up palaces glitter- 
ing with gold and precious stones. The Runic magic is more like that 
of Canidia in Horace, the romantic resembles that of Armida in 
Taso. The operations of the one are frequently but mere tricks, in 
comparison of that sublime solemnity of necromantic machinery which 
the other so awfully displays. 

It is also remarkable, that in the earlier scaldic odes, we find but few 
dragons, giants, and fairies*. These were introduced afterwards, and 
are the progeny of Arabian fancy. Nor indeed do these imaginary 
beings often occur in any of the compositions which preceded the in- 
troduction of that species of fabling. On this reasoning, the Irish 
tale-teller mentioned above could not be a lineal descendant of the 
elder Irish bards. The absence of giants and dragons, and let me add, 
of many other traces of that fantastic and brilliant imagery which com- 
poses the system of Arabian imagination, from the poems of Ossian, are 
a striking proof of their antiquity. It has already been suggested, at 
what period, and from what origin, those fancies got footing in the 
Welsh poetry: we do not find them in the odes of Taliessin or 
Aneurin q . This reasoning explains an observation of an ingenious 

* [With the exception of the "fairies," overwhelm them, like a deluge, in one 

this is strikingly incorrect. The Edda and slaughter: for unheeding I have lost a 

Beowulf, the earliest remains of Northern friend, who was brave in resisting his 

poetry, make frequent mention of giants enemies. I drank of the wine and rne- 

(Jotna-kyn, Eotena-cyn, the Etens-kin) theglin of Mordai, whose spear was of 

and dragons. The latter speaks of both huge size. In the shock of the battle he 

land and sea dragons, (eord-draca, sae- prepared food for the eagle. When Cyd- 

draca, earth-drake, sea-drake). PRICE.] wal hastened forward, a shout arose: 

q Who flourished about the year 570. before the yellow morning, when he gave 

He has left a long spirited poem called the signal, he broke the shield into small 

GODODIX, often alluded to by the later splinters. The men hastened to Catt- 

Welsh bards, which celebrates a battle raeth, noble in birth : their drink was 

fought against the Saxons near Cattraeth, wine and mead out of golden cups. There 

under the conduct of Mynnydawe Eiddin, were three hundred and sixty-three 

in which all the Britons, three only ex- adorned with chains of gold; but of those 

cepted, among which was the bard Aneurin who, filled with wine, rushed on to the 

himself, were slain. I will give a speci- fight, only three escaped, who hewed 

men. " The men whose drink was mead, their way with the sword, the warrior of 

comely in shape, hastened to Cattraeth. Acron, Conan Dacarawd, and I the bard 

These impetuous warriors in ranks, armed Aneurin, red with blood, otherwise I 

with red spears, long and bending, began should not have survived to compose this 

the battle. Might I speak my revenge song. When Caradoc hastened to the 

against the people of the Deiri, I would war, he was the son of a wild boar, in 


critic in this species of literature, and who has studied tiie works of 
the Welsh bards with much attention. " There are not such extrava- 
gant FLIGHTS in any poetic compositions, except it be in the EASTERN; 
to which, as far as I can judge by the few translated specimens I have 
seen, they bear a near resemblance*" I will venture to say he does 
not meet with these flights in the elder Welsh bards. The beautiful 
romantic fiction, that king Arthur, after being wounded in the fatal 
battle of Cainlan, was conveyed by an Elfin princess into the land of 
Faery, or spirits, to be healed of his wounds, that he reigns there still 
as a mighty potentate in all his pristine splendour, and will one day 
return to resume his throne in Britain, and restore the solemnities of 
his champions, often occurs in the antient Welsh bards 8 ; but not in 
the most antient. It is found in the compositions of the Welsh bards 
only, who flourished after the native vein of British fabling had been 
tinctured by these FAIRY TALES, which the Arabians had propagated 
in Armorica, and which the Welsh had received from their connexion 
with that province of Gaul. Such a fiction as this is entirely different 
from the cast and complexion of the ideas of the original Welsh poets. 
It is easy to collect from the Welsh odes, written after the tenth cen- 
tury, many signatures of this EXOTIC imagery. Such as, " Their 
assault was like strong lions. He is valorous as a lion, who can resist 
his lance ? The dragon of Mona's sons were so brave in fight, that 
there was horrible consternation, and upon Tal Moelvre a thousand 
banners. Our lion has brought to Trallwng three armies. A dragon 
he was from the beginning, unterrified in battle. A dragon of Ovain. 
Thou art a prince firm in battle, like an elephant. Their assault was 

hewing down the Saxons ; a bull in the modern Welsh. See the learned and in- 
conflict of fight, he twisted the wood genious Mr. Evans's Dissertatio de Bardis,, 
[spear] from their hands. Gurien saw p. 68 75. 
not his father after he had lifted the glis- r Evans, ubi supr. Pref. p. iv. 
tening mead in his hand. I praise all the s The Arabians call the Fairies Ginn, 
warriors who thus met in the battle, and and the Persians Peri. The former call 
attacked the foe with one mind. Their Fairy-land, Ginnistian, many beautiful 
life was short, but they have left a long cities of which they have described in 
regret to their friends. Yet of the Saxons their fabulous histories. See Herbclot, 
they slew more than seven . . . , . There Bibl. Orient. Gian. p. 306 a. Genn. p. 375 
was many a mother shedding tears. The a. Peri. p. 701 b. They pretend that the 
song is due to thee who hast attained the fairies built the city of Esthekar, or Per- 
highest glory: thou who wast like fire, sepolis. Id. in V. p. 327 a. One of the most 
thunder and storm: O Rudd Fedell, war- eminent of the Oriental fairies was MER- 
like champion, excellent in might, you GIAN PERI, or Mergian the Fairy. Herbel. 
still think of the war. The noble chiefs ut supr. V. Peri, p. 702 a. Thahamurath, 
deserve to be celebrated in verse, who p. 1017 a. This was a good fairy, and 
after the fight made the rivers to over- imprisoned for ages in a cavern by tha 
flow their banks with blood. Their hands giant Demrusch, from which she was de-- 
glutted the throats of the dark-brown livered by Thahamurath, whom she after- 
eagles, and skilfully prepared food for the wards assisted inconqueringanothergiant, 
ravenous birds. Of all the chiefs who his enemy. Id. ibid. And this is the fairy 
went to Cattraeth with golden chains," or elfin queen, called in the French ro- 
&c. This poem is extremely difficult to mances MORGAN LE FAY, Morgain the 
be understood, being written, if not in fairy, who preserved king Arthur. See 
the Pictish language, at least in a dialect Obs. on Spenser's Fairy Queen, i. 63. 65. 
f the Britons very different from the . ii. 
VOL. I. d 


as of strong lions The lion of Cemais fierce in the onset, when the 
army rusheth to be covered with red. He saw Llewellyn like a burn- 
ing dragon in the strife of Arson. He is furious in fight like an out- 
rageous dragon. Like the roaring of a furious lion, in the search of 
prey, is thy thirst of praise." Instead of producing more proofs from 
the multitude that might be mentioned, for the sake of illustration of 
our argument, I will contrast these with some of their natural unadul- 
terated thoughts. " Fetch the drinking-horn, whose gloss is like the 
wave of the sea. Tudor is like a wolf rushing on his prey. They 
were all covered with blood when they returned, and the high hills and 
the dales enjoyed the sun equally*. O thou virgin, that shinest like 
snow on the brows of Aran " ; like the fine spiders webs on the grass on 
a summer's day. The army at Offa's dike panted for glory, the 
soldiers of Venedotia, and the men of London, were as the alternate 
motion of the waves on the sea shore, where the sea-mew screams. 
The hovering crows were numberless : the ravens croaked, they were 
ready to suck the prostrate carcases. His enemies are scattered as 
leaves on the side of hills driven by hurricanes. He is a warrior like 
a surge on the beach that covers the wild salmons. Her eye was 
piercing like that of the hawk w : her face shone like the pearly dew on 
Eryri*. Llewellyn is a hero who setteth castles on fire. I have 
watched all night on the beadh, where the sea-gulls, whose plumes 
glitter, sport on the bed of billows; and where the herbage, growing 
in a solitary place, is of a deep green V These images are all drawn 
from their own country, from their situation and circumstances ; and, 
although highly poetical, are in general of a more sober and temperate 
colouring. In a word, not only that elevation of allusion, which many 
suppose to be peculiar to the poetry of Wales, but that fertility of 
fiction, and those marvellous fables recorded in Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
which the generality of readers, who do not sufficiently attend to the 
origin of that historian's romantic materials, believe to be the genuine 
offspring of the Welsh poets, are of foreign growth. And, to return to 
the ground of this argument, there is the strongest reason to suspect, that 
even the Gothic EDDA, or system of poetic mythology of the northern 
nations, is enriched with those higher strokes of oriental imagination, 
which the Arabians had communicated to the Europeans. Into this 
extravagant tissue of unmeaning allegory, false philosophy, and false 
theology, it was easy to incorporate their most wild and romantic con- 

1 A beautiful periphrasis for noon-day, v See Evans, ubi supr. p. 8. 10, 11. 15, 

and extremely natural in so mountainous 16. 21, 22, 23. 26. 28. 34. 37. 39, 40, 41, 

a country as Wales. This circumstance 42. And his Diss. de Bard. p. 84. Com- 

of time added to the merit of the action. pare Aneurin's ode, cited above. 

u The high mountains in Merioneth- * Huet is of opinion, that the EDDA is 

entirely the production of Snorro's fancy. 

See vol. n. p. 158. note 3 . But this is saying too much. See Orig. 

Mountains of snow, from Eiry, snow. Roman, p. 1 16. The first Edda was com.- 


It must be confessed, that the ideas of chivalry, the appendage and 
the subject of romance, subsisted among the Goths. But this must be 
understood under certain limitations. There is no peculiarity which 
more strongly discriminates the manners of the Greeks and Romans 
from those of modern times, than that small degree of attention and 
respect with which those nations treated the fair sex, and that incon- 
siderable share which they were permitted to take in conversation, and 
the general commerce of life. For the truth of this observation, we 
need only appeal to the classic writers, in which their women appear 
to have been devoted to a state of seclusion and obscurity. One is sur- 
prised that barbarians should be greater masters of complaisance than 
the most polished people that ever existed. No sooner was the Roman 
empire overthrown, and the Goths had overpowered Europe, than we 
find the female character assuming an unusual importance and author- 
ity, and distinguished with new privileges, in all the European govern- 
ments established by the northern conquerors. Even amidst the con- 
fusions of savage war, and among the almost incredible enormities 
committed by the Goths at their invasion of the empire, they forbore 
to offer any violence to the women. This perhaps is one of the most 
striking features in the new state of manners, which took jMace about 
the seventh century : and it is to this period, and to this people, that 
we must refer the origin of gallantry in Europe. The Romans never 
introduced these sentiments into their European provinces. 

The Goths believed some divine and prophetic quality to be inherent 
in their women ; they admitted them into their councils, and consulted 
them on the public business of the state. They were suffered to con- 
duct the great events which they predicted. Ganna, a prophetic virgin 

piled, undoubtedly with many additions ligible and connected prose narrative, 
and interpolations, from fictions and tra- The object of Saemund appears to have 
ditions in the old Runic poems, by Saemund been, the formation of a poetic Antho- 
Sigfusson, surnamed the Learned, [Sage] logy, rather than a regular series of mythic 
about the year 1057. He seems to have and historic documents; that of Snorro, 
made it his business to select or digest to offer a general outline of the Northern 
into one body such of these pieces as were mythology. The Rev. P. Erasmus Miiller, 
best calculated .to furnish a collection of in his tract " Ueber die Asalehre" has 
poetic phrases and figures. He studied successfully vindicated Snorro from the 
in Germany, and chiefly at Cologne. charge of palming upon the world his 
This first Edda being not only prolix, but own inventions as the religious code of 
perplexed and obscure, a second, which is the North. It should however be remark- 
that now extant, was compiled by Snorro ed, that tradition alone or very recent ma- 
Sturleson, born in the year 1179. nuscripts attribute the formation of the 
[This has been copied from Mallet, first collection to Saenmnd. This does 
who seems only to have seen the Edda not rest on certain testimony. PRICE.] 
of Snorro as published by Resenius. It is certain, and very observable, that 
The Edda of Saemund has since been in the EDDA we find much more of giants, 
published at Copenhagen by the Arnse- dragons, and other imaginary beings, un- 
Magnaean Commission. The labours of doubtedly belonging to Arabian romance, 
Saemund were confined to collecting the than in the earlier Scaldic odes. By the 
mythological and historical songs of his way, there are many strokes in both the 
country, which he probably prefaced and EDDAS taken from the REVELATION of 
interspersed with a few remarks in prose; St. John, which must come from the com- 
those of Snorro, to reducing the same pilers who were Christians, 
or a similar collection into a more intel- 


of the Marcomanni, a German or Gaulish tribe, was sent by her nation 
to Rome, and admitted into the presence of Domitian, to treat concern- 
ing terms of peace y . Tacitus relates, that Velleda, another German 
prophetess, held frequent conferences with the Roman generals ; and 
that on some occasions, on account of the sacredness of her person, she 
was placed at a great distance on a high tower, from whence, like an 
oracular divinity, she conveyed her answers by some chosen messenger 2 . 
She appears to have preserved the supreme rule over her own people 
and the neighbouring tribes a . And there are other instances, that the 
government among the antient Germans was sometimes vested in the 
women b . This practice also prevailed among the Sitones or Norwe- 
gians . The Cimbri, a Scandinavian tribe, were accompanied at their 
assemblies by venerable and hoary-headed prophetesses, appareled in 
long linen vestments of a splendid white d . Their matrons and daugh- 
ters acquired a reverence from their skill in studying simples, and their 
knowledge of healing wounds, arts reputed mysterious. The wives 
frequently attended their husbands in the most perilous expeditions, 
and fought with great intrepidity in the most bloody engagements 6 . 
These nations dreaded captivity, more on the account of their women, 
than on thefr own : and the Romans, availing themselves of this appre- 
hension, often demanded their noblest virgins for hostages f . From 
these circumstances, the women even claimed a sort of precedence, 
at least an equality subsisted between the sexes, in the Gothic con- 

But the deference paid to the fair sex, which produced the spirit of 
gallantry, is chiefly to be sought for in those strong and exaggerated 
ideas of female chastity which prevailed among the northern nations. 
Hence the lover's devotion to his mistress was increased, his attentions 
to her service multiplied, his affection heightened, and his solicitude 
aggravated, in proportion as the difficulty of obtaining her was en- 
hanced : and the passion of love acquired a degree of delicacy, when 
controlled by the principles of honour and purity. The highest ex- 
cellence of character then known was a superiority in arms ; and that 
rival was most likely to gain his lady's regard, who was the bravest 
champion. Here we see valour inspired by love. In the mean time, 

* Dio. lib. Ixvii. p. 761. Dissertatio de Mulieribus Fatidicis vete- 

* Hist. lib. iv. p. 953. edit. D'Orlean. rum Celtarum gentiumque Septentriona- 
fl' Hum. See also Cluverius's Germania 

He says just before, " ea virgo late Antiqua, lib. i. cap. xxiv. pag. 165. edit, 

imperitabat." Ibid. p. 951. He saw her fol. Lugd. Bat. 1631. It were easy to 

in the reign of Vespasian. De Morib. trace the WEIRD sisters, and our modern 

German, p. 972. where he likewise men- witches, to this source, 

tions Aurinia. e See Sect vii infr VQ , n p 33 DJ 

b See Tacit. Hist. lib. v. p. 969. ut odorus Siculus says, that among the Scy- 

8U P r - thians the women are trained to war as 

De Morib. German, p. 983. ut supra. well as the men, to whom they are not in- 

* Strab. Geograph. lib. viii. p. 205. edit. fe-rior in strength and courage. L. ii. p. 90. 
Is. Cas. 1587. fol. Compare Keysler, ' Tacit, de Morib. Germ. pag. 972. ut 
Amiquit. Sel. Septentrional, p. 371. viz. supr. 


the same heroic spirit which was the survest claim to the favour of the 
ladies, was often exerted in their protection : a protection much wanted 
in an age of rapine, of plunder, and piracy ; when the weakness of the 
softer sex was exposed to continual dangers and unexpected attacks* 
It is easy to suppose the officious emulation and ardour of many a 
gallant young warrior, pressing forward to be foremost in this honour- 
able service, which flattered the most agreeable of all passions, and 
which gratified every enthusiasm of the times, especially the fashionable 
foulness for a wandering and military life. In the mean time, we may 
conceive the lady thus won, or thus defended, conscious of her own im- 
portance, affecting an air of stateliness : it was her pride to have pre- 
served her chastity inviolate, she could perceive no merit but that of 
invincible bravery, and could only be approached in terms of respect 
and submission. 

Among the Scandinavians, a people so fond of cloathing adventures 
in verse, these gallantries must naturally become the subject of poetry, 
with its fictitious embellishments. Accordingly, we find their chivalry 
displayed in their odes ; pieces, which at the same time greatly confirm 
these observations. The famous ode of Regner Lodbrog affords a 
striking instance ; in which, being imprisoned in a loathsome dungeon, 
and condemned to be destroyed by venomous serpents, he solaces his 
desperate situation by recollecting and reciting the glorious exploits of 
his past life. One of these, and the first which he commemorates, was an 
achievement of chivalry. It was the delivery of a beautiful Swedish 
princess from an impregnable fortress, in which she was forcibly de- 
tained by one of her father's captains. Her father issued a proclama- 
tion, promising that whoever would rescue the lady should have her in 
marriage. Regner succeeded in the attempt, and married the fair 
captive. This was about the year 860 h . There are other strokes in 
Regner's ode, which, although not belonging to this particular story, 
deserve to be pointed out here, as illustrative of our argument. Such 
as, " It was [not*] like' being placed near a beautiful virgin on a 
couch. It was [not*] like kissing a young widow in the first seat at 

g See instances of this sort of violence [This " History of Hialmar " is a 

in the ancient HISTORY OF HIALMAR, a modern forgery. See the Rev. P. Miiller's 

Runic romance, p. 135, 136. 140. Diss. preface to Haldorsen's Islandic Dic- 

Epist. ad calc. Hickes. Thesaur. vol. i. tionary, where other "figments" of a. si- 

where also is a challenge between two milar kind are catalogued. PRICE.] 
champions for king Hialmar's daughter. Histor. Norw. torn. i. lib 

erich presents . ines.ivnaoe h 

:? ; ?hoV n r ? 2s r f h e : 

other, mmA Hramur, , e Udy herse.f, 

r f h e : < Asiruga the a h 

praeclara 6est * s ' ockholm - 

piece, which is in Runic capital characters, 

was written before the year 1000. Many * [The original in both passages reads, 

stories of this kij^d might be produced Verat sem It was not like. PRICE.] 
from the northern chronicles. 


a feast. I made to struggle in the twilight* that golden-haired chief 
who passed his mornings among the young maidens, and loved to con- 
verse with widows. lie who aspires to the love of young virgins, 
ought always to be foremost in the din of arms 1 ." It is worthy of re- 
mark, that these sentiments occur to Regner while he is in the midst 
of his tortures, and at the point of death. Thus many of the heroes in 
Froissart, in the greatest extremities of danger, recollect their amours, 
and die thinking of their mistresses. And by the way, in the same 
strain, Boh, a Danish champion, having lost his chin, and one o^is 
cheeks, by a single stroke from Thurstain Midlang, only reflected how 
he should be received, when thus maimed and disfigured, by the Danish 
girls. He instantly exclaimed in a tone of savage gallantry, " The 
Danish virgins will not now willingly or easily give me kisses, if I should 
perhaps return home k ." But there is an ode, in the KNYTLINGA- 
SAGA, written by Harald the VALIANT, which is professedly a song of 
chivalry ; and which, exclusive of its wild spirit of adventure, and its 
images of savage life, has the romantic air of a set of stanzas composed 
by a Provencial troubadour. Harald appears to have been one of the 
most eminent adventurers of his age. He had killed the king of Dron- 
theim in a bloody engagement. He had traversed all the seas, and 
visited all the coasts, of the north ; and had carried his piratical enter- 
prises even as far as the Mediterranean, and the shores of Africa. He 
was at length taken prisoner, and detained for some time at Constan- 
tinople. He complains in this ode, that the reputation he had acquired 
by so many hazardous exploits, by his skill in single combat, riding, 
swimming, gliding along the ice, darting, rowing, and guiding a ship 
through the rocks, had not been able to make any impression on Elis- 
siff, or Elisabeth, the beautiful daughter of Jarilas, king of Russia 1 . 

Here, however, chivalry subsisted but in its rudiments. Under the 
feudal establishments, which were soon afterwards erected in Europe, 
it received new vigour, and was invested with the formalities of a regu- 
lar institution. The nature and circumstances of that peculiar model 
of government were highly favourable to this strange spirit of fantastic 
heroism ; which, however unmeaning and ridiculous it may seem, had 
the most serious and salutary consequences in assisting the general 
growth of refinement, and the progression of civilisation, in forming 
the manners of Europe, in inculcating the principles of honour, and in 

* [Dr. Percy has it, " in the twilight I saw retire the fair-haired 

of death," which adds greatly to the sub- Maids-lad at morning, 

limity of the passage. See the second of And sort-speaker of (the) widow. 

?Jr* Pi S frJ^ P e y ' I 1 " 1 " 16 * ln The P erso " " lluded to w s A > * 

1 , 63. The Chief" was Harold Harfax, ince the Hebrides. Mr. Park pro- 

king of Norway -PARK ] ^bly means Harald Harfager, who was 

[Unhappily the Islandic text makes no not born at the time.-PRiCE.] 
mention of the " twilight. i g t jg ^ jp 9 ^ 

Har-fagran sa ek hraukva, fc Chron. Norveg. p. 136. 

Meyar-dreng at morgni, 1 Bartholin. p. 54. 

Oe mal-vin eckio, 


teaching modes of decorum. The genius of the feudal policy was per- 
fectly martial. A numerous nobility, formed into separate principali- 
ties, affecting independence, and mutually jealous of their privileges 
and honours, necessarily lived in a state of hostility. This situation 
rendered personal strength and courage the most requisite and essential 
accomplishments. And hence, even in time of peace, they had no con- 
ception of any diversions or public ceremonies, but such as were of the 
military kind. Yet, as the courts of these petty princes were thronged 
with ladies of the most eminent distinction and quality, the ruling pas- 
sion for war was tempered with courtesy. The prize of contending 
champions was adjudged by the ladies ; who did not think it incon- 
sistent to be present or to preside at the bloody spectacles of the times; 
and who, themselves, seem to have contracted an unnatural and unbe- 
coming ferocity, while they softened the manners of those valorous 
knights who fought for their approbation. The high notions of a 
noble descent, which arose from the condition of the feudal constitu- 
tion, and the ambition of forming an alliance with powerful and opu- 
lent families, cherished this romantic system. It was hard to obtain 
the fair feudatory, who was the object of universal adoration. Not 
only the splendour of birth, but the magnificent castle surrounded with 
embattelled walls, guarded with massy towers, and crowned with lofty 
pinnacles, served to inflame the imagination, and to create an attach- 
ment to some illustrious heiress, whose point of honour it was to be 
chaste and inaccessible. And the difficulty of success on these occa- 
sions seems in great measure to have given rise to that sentimental 
love of romance, which acquiesced in a distant respectful admiration, 
and did not aspire to possession. The want of an uniform administra- 
tion of justice, the general disorder, and state of universal anarchy, 
which naturally sprung from the principles of the feudal policy, pre- 
sented perpetual opportunities of checking the oppressions of arbitrary 
lords, of delivering captives injuriously detained in the baronial castles, 
of punishing robbers, of succouring the distressed, and of avenging the 
impotent and the unarmed, who were every moment exposed to the 
most licentious insults and injuries. The violence and injustice of the 
times gave birth to valour and humanity. These acts conferred a lustre 
and an importance on the character of men professing arms, who made 
force the substitute of law. In the mean time, the crusades, so preg- 
nant with enterprize, heightened the habits of this warlike fanaticism ; 
and when these foreign expeditions were ended, in which the hermits 
and pilgrims of Palestine had been defended, nothing remained to 
employ the activity of adventurers but the protection of innocence at 
home. Chivalry by degrees was consecrated by religion, whose author- 
ity tinctured every passion, and was engrafted into every institution 
of the superstitious ages; and at length composed that singular picture 
of manners, in which the love of a god and of the ladies were reconciled, 


the saint and the hero were blended, and charity and revenge, zeal and 
gallantry, devotion and valour, were united. 

Those who think that chivalry started late, from the nature of the 
feudal constitution, confound an improved effect with a simple cause. 
Not having distinctly considered all the particularities belonging to the 
genius, manners, and usages of the Gothic tribes, and accustomed to 
contemplate nations under the general idea of barbarians, they cannot 
look for the seeds of elegance amongst men distinguished only for their 
ignorance and their inhumanity. The rude origin of this heroic gal- 
lantry was quickly overwhelmed and extinguished by the superior 
pomp which it necessarily adopted from the gradual diffusion of opu- 
lence and civility, and that blaze of splendour with which it was sur- 
rounded, amid the magnificence of the feudal solemnities. But above 
all, it was lost and forgotten in that higher degree of embellishment 
which at length it began to receive from the representations of ro- 

From the foregoing observations taken together, the following general 
and comprehensive conclusion seems to result : 

Amid the gloom of superstition, in an age of the grossest ignorance 
and credulity, a taste for the wonders of oriental fiction was introduced 
by the Arabians into Europe, many countries of which were already 
seasoned to a reception of its extravagancies by means of the poetry 
of the Gothic scalds, who perhaps originally derived their ideas from 
the same fruitful region of invention. These fictions, coinciding with 
the reigning manners, and perpetually kept up and improved in the 
tales of troubadours and minstrels, seem to have centred about the 
eleventh century in the ideal histories of Turpin and Geoffrey of Mon- 
mouth, which record the supposititious achievements of Charlemagne 
and king Arthur, where they formed the groundwork of that species of 
fabulous narrative called romance. And from these beginnings or 
causes, afterwards enlarged and enriched by kindred fancies fetched 
from the crusades, that singular and capricious mode of imagination 
arose, which at length composed the marvellous machineries of the more 
sublime Italian poets, and of their disciple Spenser. 

[NOTE. The whole of this essay is extremely illogical and unsatisfactory. War- 
ton's leading position. respecting the influence of Arabic literature in Europe, is 
unsound, and most of the proofs which he alleges are matters which require proving 
themselves. The two poems of Beowulf and the Nibelungen Lied, are a complete 
practical refutation of his entire system. R. G.] 

Note B. 


See DISSERTATION I. page iii. Note [ d ]. 

THE opinion advanced in this note [ d ], that the " Lays of Brittany" 
were written in French by bards of that province, was withdrawn in a 
subsequent volume. (See vol. ii. p. 323, note A.) Since then, the 
poems of Marie have been published under the following title: " Poesies 
de Marie de France, ou Recueil de Lais, Fables et autres Productions 
de cette Femme celebre, par B. de Roquefort: Paris, 1820: 2 vols. 
8vo." In addition to the twelve Lays contained in the Harl. MS. (cited 
above), M. Roquefort has inserted the Lai de Graelent, given in Bar- 
bazan (tom.iv. p. 157), arid the Lai de 1'Epine, analysed by Le Grand 
(torn. iii. p. 24-4?). We are not informed upon what authority these 
pieces are assigned to Marie, and it is probable that internal evidence 
alone has governed the editor in his decision. This is sufficiently 
striking to arrest the attention of a foreigner little acquainted with the 
niceties of the dialect in which they are written : but the fact, if such, 
ought to have been stated. On the authority of a line which does not 
occur in M. Roquefort's copy, M. de la Rue is disposed to ascribe the 
Lai de 1'Epine to Guillaume-le-Normand. Such an omission would not 
be extraordinary in different manuscripts of the same work, whether 
the result of accident or design : but M. Roquefort mentions the cir- 
cumstance as if he and his learned friend had both consulted the same 
document. If this be the case, it may be observed in corroboration 
of the objection raised by the latter to the claim of Guillaume, that 
the introduction to the Lay shows it to have formed one of a series, and 
that it was not an occasional or unconnected production. 

Les aventures trespassers, 
Que diversement ai contees, 
NeV ai pas dites sans garant ; 
Les estores en tra'i avant ; 
Ki encore sont a Carlion, 
Ens le monstier Saint Aaron, 
Et en Bretaigne sont seues*. 

The late Mr. Ritson chose to deny the Armorican origin of these 
Lays ; and to infer, in a long and specious note appended to the romance 
of Emare, that by the terms " Bretagne and Bretons," so repeatedly 
mentioned in them, were intended " the country and people of Great 
Britain." To a part of this proposition Mr. Douce also seems to assent. 

* v. 3. 


The evident design of Mr. Ritson in this singular declaration, was to 
counteract a belief that there ever existed a mass of popular poetry in 
Brittany, recording either native traditions, or romantic history con- 
nected with the country from whence a portion of its inhabitants had 
migrated. It was of importance to disprove this fact, as it so powerfully 
militated against a favourite principle laid down in the " Dissertation 
on Romance," that Geoffrey of Monmouth was the inventor of the 
Chronicle bearing his name, that the labours of this " impostour" 
became the storehouse of every after fabler on the British story, and 
that previous to its appearance the minstrels of France were as unac- 
quainted with the exploits of Arthur and his followers, as their Kal- 
muck brethren are at the present day. By investing Marie with the 
character of an original writer, the question of Geoffrey's veracity, as 
to the means by which he obtained possession of his original, and his 
fidelity in executing a translation, became materially circumscribed ; 
and the wild assertion of the editor of Pelloutier's Dictionary, that " the 
Armorican Britons have not cultivated poetry, and the language such as 
they speak it, does not appear able to ply to the measure, or to the sweet- 
ness and to the harmony of verse" might then be said to stand uncon- 
fronted by opposing testimony. It will be needless to enter here upon 
either- of these positions, which affect a subject to be discussed here- 
after ; and it will be sufficient to offer a general protest against the col- 
lateral evidence adduced by Mr. Ritson, as to the meaning of the word 
" Breton" in several old French romances. There is but one passage 
out of many thus unnecessarily pressed into the service, which contains 
any thing more than a general reference to " Breton lays :" 

Bons Lais de harpe vus apris 
Lais Bretuns de nostre pais. 

This is given from a fragment in Mr. Douce's possession, and is cited 
in the language of Tristan to Ysolt. But Mr. Ritson has omitted to 
mention that it was uttered by Tristan in the presence of king Mark, 
when he had assumed the character of a madman, and was just arrived 
from a foreign country, of which the name is not specified. In all pro- 
bability this country was Brittany, as the adventure seems the coun- 
terpart to his assumption of the beggar's garb in our English romance. 

But admitting there was a slight discrepancy between the language 
of various romances, as to the position of Bretagne, the question of 
Marie's claim to the invention of these lays can neither be invalidated 
nor supported by it. Every one is aware that there is no topic upon 
which the general language of romance is more unsettled and contra- 
dictory, than its geographical details. The same liberties allowed in 
forming a genealogic line for the hero, were extended to the fictitious 
scene of his actions ; and countries the most remote were as reacjily 
transferred to a close and intimate proximity, as their customs and lan- 
guages were rendered identical. It would be of the essence of hyper- 


criticism to censure this practice, which might be justified by the very 
charter-rolls of romance, as indeed it would be the height of absurdity 
to bring such details to the test of chorographic truth. The only 
object for consideration in applying the information thus conveyed, 
must be the apparent intentions of the communicant, the probable ex- 
tent of his personal knowledge, or the accuracy of his avowed author- 
ities, and how far, in the exercise of these resources, he is likely to 
have been swayed by the suggestions of his fancy, or misdirected by 
his ignorance. It will be worse than useless to heap together, as 
Mr. Ritson has done, the whole mass of evidence to be gathered from 
every source, without regard to the varied character of the proofs thus 
collected, and by drawing a general inference, to assign the same author- 
ity to that which is confessedly fabulous, as to that which may have 
been uttered in good faith. Every writer ought to be weighed in his 
own scale ; and the only hope we can have of eliciting an author's in- 
tentions, must be, by resorting to his own declarations in illustration 
of his own peculiar meaning. Now with respect to Marie, M. de la 
Rue* has already shown, from the prologue to the poems, that she only 
aspired to the character of a translator. Her first intention was to have 
given a version in Romance, of some Latin writer; but finding the 
ground preoccupied, she abandoned this design, and resolved on versi- 
fying the Breton tales which she had heard recited or found recorded. 

Des Lais pensai k'o'i aveie 
Ne dutai pas, bien le saveie, 
Ke pur remanbrance les firent 
Des aventures k'il oi'rent 

Plusurs en ai o'i conter, 
Ne voil laisser nes' oblier ; 
Rimez en ai, e fait ditie 
Soventes fiez en ai veillie. 

This is frequently referred to in various parts of her poems ; some of 
which were translated from written documents ; others versified from 
recollection, or oral communication ; while the majority either acknow- 
ledge a Breton original, or contain decided proofs of a connection with 
that country. Of this the evidence shall now be submitted. 

The first poem in M. Roquefort's collection is the Lai de Gugemer, 
which opens with the following exordium : 

Les cuntes ke jo sai verais 
Dunt li Bretun unt fait lor Lais, 
Vus cunterai assez briefment 
El cief de cest coumencement. 
Sulunc la lettre e lescriture 
Vus musterai une aventure 

* Archaeologia, vol. xiii. 


Ki en Bretuiyne la menur, 
Avint al tens ancienur*. 

The Lai d'Equitan who was " Sire de Nauns," (and of whose achieve- 
ments " LiBretun firent un Lai") also commences with a direct tes- 
timony to the practice of recording deeds of chivalry and heroic adven- 
ture in that country : 

Mut unt est6 noble Barun, 
Cil de Bretaine li Bretun ; 
Jadis suleient par pruesce, 
Par curteisie, e par noblesce, 
Des aventures qu'ils oieent, 
Ki a plusur gent aveneient 
Fere les Lais pur remenbrance 
Qu'en ne les meist en ubliance. 
N'ent firent ceo o'i cuntur 
Ki n'est fet mie a ublier. 

The Lai de Bisclaveret is not specifically acknowledged as a Breton 
lay ; but the scene is laid in " Bretaine," and the Breton term from 
which the story derives its name, is cited in contradistinction to that 
current in the adjoining 'duchy of Normandy : 

Bisclaveret ad nun en Bretan, 
Garwell 1'apelent li Norman. 

From the Lai deLausticf we obtain a similar testimony, with the 
additional declaration of its being a Breton lay : 

Une aventure vus dirai 
Dunt li Bretun firent un Lai; 
Laustic ad nun ceo m'est avis, 
Si 1'apelent en lur pai's ; 
Ceo est Reisun en Franceis, 
E Nihtegale en dreit Engleis. 

The scene is at St. Maloes. Of the Lai des deux Amans and of the 
Lai de Graelent it is said, " Un Lai en firent li Bretun ;" of the Lai de 
1'Epine, " Li Breton en firent un Lai ;" and of the Lai d'Eliduc, 

* v. 21. the Nightingale and her plaintive song 

f- MM. de la Rue and Roquefort speak are declared to be typical of the doctrines 

of an English version of this lay, and refer and sufferings of Jesus Christ. 

to the Cotton MS. Cal. A. II. These gen- [The English poem is a translation 

tlemen were either misled by a similarity from the Latin one composed by John 

in the title of the poem in question, Hoveden, chaplain to Eleanor, queen of 

(Nightingale,) or a manuscript note in Edward the First, intitled Meditatio de 

the Museum copy of the catalogue of the Nativitate $c. Domini vocata Philomela 

Cotton MSS. The English poem is a Canticum. See Tanner, roc. Hoveden. M.] 
mystic rhapsody on holy living ; in which 


De un mut ancien Lai Bretun 
Le cunte e tute la reisun, 
Vus dirai si cum jeo entent 
La verite mun escient. 

Of these four, the scene of the first is laid in Normandy, and of the 
rest in " Bretaine." Of the remaining six, the Lai du Frene places the 
action in " Bretaine," without giving a more positive locality to the 
scene. It was a tale which Marie had heard recounted, but which she 
does not expressly claim as a " Breton lay." The Lai de Chevrefeuille 
was translated from a written original : 

Plusurs le m'unt cunte e dit, 

E jeo lai trove en escrit. 

It contains no reference to " Bretaine " or the " Bretons :" and, if we 

could forget Mr. Ritson's arbitrary dogmas relative to the poverty of 
native genius both before and after the Conquest, might be supposed to 
owe its existence to some English poem now no. more : 

Tristam ki bien saveit harper, 
En aveit feit un nuvel Lai 
Asez brevement le numerai. 
Gotelef 1'apelent en Engleis, 
Chevrefoil li nument en Franceis ; 
Dit vus en ai la ve"rite 
Del' Lai que j'ai ici cunte. 

There is reason to believe the Lai de Milun is not of Breton origin, 
as Marie deviates from her usual phraseology in announcing her 

De lur amur e de lur bien 

Firent un Lai li Auncien ; 

E jeo qui 1'ai mis en escrit 

Ai recunter mut me delit. 

The hero was born in South Wales : 

Milun fu de Suht- Wales nez : 
a country also called Gales : 

Jeo quid k'il est de Gales nez: 
E si est Milun apelez. 

Mention is likewise made of Northumberland ; but the younger Milun's 
journey from England to Brittany is so circumstantially narrated, that 
every doubt as to the geographical position of the latter must be re- 
moved : 

A Suht-hamptune vait passer, 

Cum il ainz pot se mist en mer, 

A Barbefluet (Barfleur. R.) est arrivez, 

Dreit en Brutaine est alez. 


With reference to the same journey it is afterward said : 

En Normendie est passez, 
Puis est desque Bretaine alez. 

We also gather from the same lay the names by which the inhabit- 
ants of this and several adjoining countries were designated. 

Al munt Seint-Michel s'asemblerent, 
Normein, e Bretun i alerent ; 
E li Flamenc, e li Franceis, 
Mes ni ot guere de Engleis. 

In these specimens there is not the slightest evidence to prove, as as- 
serted by Mr. Ritson, that by " Bretaine and Breton were intended the 
country and people of Great Brittain." On the contrary whenever 
Marie enters into detail, we constantly find that by " Bretaine" she 
understood Brittany, and by " Breton " either the inhabitants or lan- 
guage of that province. No specific mention is made of England as a 
country ; but the people and their dialect are alike called Engleis ; 
and the unequivocal appellation given to Wales precludes all possibility 
of supposing it was implied under .the name of " Bretaine." 

We now come to those Lays which Mr. Ritson has selected as con- 
taining the strongest confirmation of his opinion : " She must however 
[by Bretaine] mean Great Britain in the Lay of Lanval, where she 
mentions Kardoel, and that of Ywenec where she speaks of Carwent 
(i.e. Venta Silurum, now Chepstow), which she places upon the Du- 
glas instead of the Wye." Unhappily for the accuracy of this conclu- 
sion, the name of Bretaine never occurs throughout the Lai de Lanval. 
Marie certainly cites the Bretons as her authority for the narrative : 

Od li s'en vait en Avalon, 
Ce nus racuntent li Breton 

and calls Lanval a Breton name : 

L'aventure d'un autre Lai 
Cum il avint vus cunterai ; 
Feit fu d'un mult, riche vassal, 
En Bretun 1'apelent Lanval. 

But we have already seen that these terms can have no reference to 
Great Britain. The Lai d'Ywenec certainly favours Mr. Ritson's opi- 
nion. It speaks of Caerwent (which, though the Roman Venta Silurum, 
is not Chepstow,) and places it in Bretaigne : 

En Bretaigne aveit jadis 

Uns riches Huns vielz et ancis ; 

De Caerwent fut avoez, 

Et du pa'is Sire clamez : 

La cite si est sor Dnglas 


A similar combination occurs in the Lai de 1'Epine : 

Les estores en tra'i avant ; 
Ki encore sont a Carlion^ 
Ens le monstier Saint-Aaron, 
Et en Bretaigne sont seues 

It would seem as if M. Roquefort had suspected that Marie in this 
passage was not alluding to Caerleon in Wales ; for he observes in a 
note : " II existoit en France une ile Saint- Aaron. Elle a ete ren- 
fermee dans la ville de Saint-Malo, au moyen d'une chaussee." That 
there either was a Caerleon in Armorica, or, what is far more probable, 
that Marie by her own powerful dictum transferred this town from the 
opposite side of the Channel, is evident from a passage in the Lai de 
Chaitivel. The events of this poem are stated to have transpired " en 
Bretaine a Nantes :" but iij the course of the narrative, without the 
slightest indication of a change of scene, we find the following 'date 
produced as the period when some of the transactions occurred : 

A la feste Saint- Aaron, 
K'uni celebroit a Carlion. 

In this we have the clearest acknowledgement, that in the estimation 
of the writer, Nantz and Caerleon were towns of the same province ; 
and the previous testimony, with one exception, has declared that pro- 
vince to have been Bretaine in France. If, however, we accept Marie's 
representation of herself, and consider her as the translator of these 
poems, even this exception loses its force. For what could be more 
natural to suppose on her part, than that the scene of those adventures 
which formed the theme of Armorican song should be laid in Armorica? 
or that even where her original made mention of Britain (Wales) as 
the theatre of the events it registered, she should through ignorance 
or design interpret the expression as referring to Brittany ? How 
much more probable is it, that either of these causes may have ope- 
rated in producing the seeming contradiction between the Lai d'Ywenec 
and every other poem in the collection, than that Marie should have 
stultified herself by confounding two countries under one common 
name, for both of which on other occasions she had a distinctive ap- 
pellation ! 

Of the interpretation given to her language or that of her contem- 
poraries in this country, we have the most satisfactory evidence in 
Chaucer : 

Thise old gentil Bretons in hir dayes, 
Of diverse aventures maden layes, 
Rimeyed in hir firste Breton tonge ; 
And on of hem have I in remembrance, 
In Armorike, that called is Bretaigne, &c. 


This may be contrasted with the conclusion of the Lai d'Eliduc. 
Del' Aventure de ces treis, 
Li auncien Bretun curteis 
Firent le Lai pur remembrer, 
Que hum nel' deust pas oblier. 

Even Mr. Ritson has admitted, that the author of Sir Orpheo may 
" perhaps allude to the Armorican Britons," when he says : 

In Brytayn this layes arne ywrytt, 
Furst y founde and forthe ygete, 
Of aventures that fillen by dayes 
Wherof Brytons made her layes. 

This is but a similar declaration to the language of Marie already cited 
from the Lai d'Equitan. Of the popularity of "Orpheo's" story in 
Armorica, we have a sufficient testimony in the Lai d'Epine : 

Le Lais escoutent d'Aielis, 

Que uns Yrois doucement note 

Mout le sonne ens sa rote. 

Apries celi d'autre commenche, 

Nus d'iaus ni noise ne ni tenche ; 

Le Lai lor sone d' Orphey 

There is one peculiarity in the language of Marie relative to this 
subject which remains to be noticed. In the Lai de Graelent she speaks 
of " Bretaigne le menur," an expression which occurs once again in the 
Lai d'Eliduc. But this refinement is not preserved throughout either 
of the poems : for in the first we have " En Bretaigne est venue al 
port ;" and in the second, " En Bretaine ot un Chevalier," both with 
reference to the same country. Of a " Bretaine le grand" there is no 
trace in the whole collection : and if it be allowable to speculate upon 
a question so perfectly beyond the grasp of certainty, the utmost we 
can venture to infer will be, that though Marie may have found this 
distinctive nomenclature in her original text, she evidently neglected to 
observe it. We know from other sources, that in her time one of these 
countries was better known by its subdivision into the realms of Engle- 
terre and Gales. 

The second volume of M.Roquefort's edition of Marie's Poems con- 
tains her Fables. It is not intended to exhaust the reader's patience 
by entering into a discussion of the source from whence these fables 
were derived ; but as MM. de la Rue and Roquefort have attempted to 
claim her English original as the production of Henry the First, the 
subject cannot be wholly passed over in silence. These gentlemen do 
not seem to have known that a copy of the fables preserved at Oxford 
unites with the Harleian MS. 78. in attributing the English version to 
king Alfred : 


Le reiz Alurcz que mut 1'ama 
Le translata puis en Engleis*. 

This, supported as it is by the several disguises of the Pasquier and 
King's MSS. which read Auvert and Affrus, and the declaration of the 
Latin version (King's MS. 15. A. vii.), that the same fables " were 
rendered into English by the orders of king Alfred," is more than suffi- 
cient to outweigh the testimony of the Harleian MSS. 4333, which 
ascribes Marie's original to a king Henry. It also seems to have 
escaped the same diligent antiquaries, that the English language of 
Henry the First could not have differed materially from the Anglo- 
Saxon of Alfred ; that any person, whether native or foreigner, who 
could master the one, would find no difficulty in comprehending the 
other ; arid consequently, that the argument raised on the imagined 
obscurities of the earlier copy is perfectly groundless. As to " the 
uncouth language of Robert of Gloucester," which is supposed to have 
cost Marie so much labour in acquiring, we must remember, that how- 
ever horrific this dialect may appear to modern Frenchmen, printed 
as it is with a chevaux-de-frise of Saxon consonants, its rude ortho- 
graphy only slightly varied from the language of general conversation 
in the Chronicler's age. There could be no greater difficulty in learning 
to read or speak it, than is felt by a foreigner in modern English. In 
addition, there is reason to believe, that in Marie's time, some popular 
Anglo-Saxon subjects were rendered accessible to the modern reader, 
by the same process which fitted the early poetry of Italy for general 
circulation at the present day. We know, from certain testimony, that 
at a subsequent period the Brut of Layamon was made intelligible by 
a more recent version ; and probability seems to favour the belief, that 
such was the case with the " Sayings of Alfred," formerly in the Cotton 
Library. If these " Sayings" were registered by one of Alfred's con- 
temporaries, or in the Anglo-Saxon language, they were doubtlessly 
written in the same metre as the translation appended to the edition of 
his Boethius, and would only have received the dress in which they are 
exhibited by Wanley, about the time of Richard I., or John. Mr. Sha- 
ron Turner has produced this collection of apophthegms as the first 
specimen of English prose ; but they are evidently written in the same 
mixed style of rhyme and alliterative metre which we find in Layamon. 
It is this circumstance which has suggested the possibility of their being 
recorded at an earlier date than the language in which they are written. 

* MSS. JAMES, viii. p. 23. Bibl. Bodl. the period when she lived, see De la Rue's 

cited below, vol. ii. p. 253. " Essais sur les Bardes, les Jongleurs, et 

[Mr. Price was not aware in producing les Trouveres," torn. iii. pp. 47 100; Ro- 

this additional authority, that the MS. bert, " Fables inedits des 12 e , 13 e , et 14 e 

James only contains a recent copy by siecles," torn. i. pp. clii clix. 8vo. Par, 

James himself of the Harleian MS., and 1825; Meon's Preface to the " Roman du 

consequently adds nothing to the argu- Renart." 8vo. Par. 1826 ; and Miss L, S. 

ment. In addition to the works referred Costello's Specimens of the Early Poetry of 

to for information respecting Marie and France, pp. 43-49. 8vo. Lond. 1835. M.] 

VOL. i. e 


seems to indicate : but of course neither this, nor the claim of Alfred 
to the English version of ^sop, is insisted upon as demonstrable. The 
only object of these remarks is to impugn the evidence which MM. de 
la Rue and Roquefort consider as conclusive in favour of Henry I. 

In closing this excursive note it may not be amiss to observe, that 
the Harl. MS. calls Marie's collection of fables L'Ysopet or the little 
jEsop, of which a Dutch translation is said to have been made in the 
13th century. (See Van Wyn, Historische Avondstonden, p. 263.) 
This title appears to have been given it by way of distinction from 
another collection of fables, probably made at an earlier period and 
derived from a purer source. The latter is mentioned in the prologue 
to Merlant's Spiegel Historiael. 

In Cyrus tiden was Esopus 

De Favelare, wi lessent dus, 

Die de favele conde maken 

Hoe beesten en vogle spraken : 

Hierute es gemaect Aviaen 

En andere boeken, sender waen, 

Die man Esopus heet, bi namen. 

Waren oec die si bequamen 

Die hevet Calfstaf en Nodekyn 

Ghedicht, en rime scone en fyn. 

i. e. We read that Esop, the fabler, who made fables how the birds and 
beasts converse, lived in the time of Cyrus. No doubt Aviaen (Avi- 
enus?) drew from it and other books which people call Esopus. 
Calfstaf and Noydekyn put into fair rhymes those which they took 
pleasure in. 




See DISSERTATION I. page xxxii. Note[ m ]. 

THE text of this poem has been formed from a collation of the Cotton 
MSS. Tiberius A. vi. B. i. B. iv. In the translation an attempt has been 
made to preserve the original idiom as nearly as possible without pro- 
ducing obscurity; and in every deviation from this rule, the literal 
meaning has been inserted within brackets *. The words in parentheses 
are supplied for the purpose of making the narrative more connected, 

* [The words in Italics in the present have been added: and the references to 
edition are inserted in conformity with the Beowulf are adapted to the text of Mr 
corrections pointed out in the Notes which Kemble. R T ] 



and have thus been separated from the context, that one of the leading 
features in the style of Anglo-Saxon poetry might be more apparent to 
the English reader. For the benefit of the Anglo-Saxon student, a close 
attention has been paid in rendering the grammatical inflections of the 
text, a practice almost wholly disused since the days of Hickes ; but 
which cannot be too strongly recommended to every future translator 
from this language, whether of prose or verse. The extracts from Mr. 
Turner's and Mr. Ingram's versions cited in the notes, have been taken 
from the History of the Anglo-Saxons, vol. ii., and the recent edition of 
the Saxon Chronicle, An. 938. But those variations alone have been 
noticed which differed in common from the present translation. 

j^Ethelstan cyning, 
eorla drihten, 
beorna beah-gyfa, 
and his brother eac, 
Eadmund aetheling l , 
ealdor langne tir 2 , 

1 The reader must be cautioned against 
receiving this literal interpretation of the 
text, in the same literal spirit. The terms 
eorl and beorn man and bairn are used 
with great latitude of meaning in Anglo- 
Saxon poetry ; and though generally ap- 
plied to persons of eminent rank or ex- 
alted courage, we have no proof of their 
appropriation as hereditary titles of di- 
stinction at the early period when this ode 
was composed. The word " ytheling" 
strictly speaking The son of the aethel 
or noble appears to have gained an im- 
port in England nearly corresponding to 
our modern prince. In the Saxon Chro- 
nicle it is almost always, if not exclusively, 
confined to personages of the blood royal. 
Perhaps there is neither of these terms 
whose modern representative differs so es- 
sentially from its original as " ealdor." At 
the present day no idea of rank is attached 
to the word " elder," and none of autho- 
rity except among some religious sects, 
and a few incorporated societies. In An- 
glo-Saxon poetry it rarely, if ever, occurs as 
marking seniority in point of age. Even the 
infant Edward is called an " elder of earls." 

And feng his beam 

syth-than to cyne-rice ; 

cyld unweaxen, 

eorla ealdor, 

tham waes Eadweard nama. 

And his bairn took 

after that to the kingdom ; 

child unwaxen, 

elder of earls, 

to whom was Edward name. 

['Beorn,' masc., a warrior, chieftain, 

JEthelstan (the) king, 

lord of earls, \_men~\ 

bracelet-giver of barons, [chieftains'] 

and his brother eke, 

Eadmund (the) prince, 

very illustrious chieftain, \Jiif e-long glory~\ 

baron, &c. pi. beornas; while 'beam,' neut. 
(Scott, bairn) a child, has its sing, and pi. 
alike. ' Eorl ' is frequently used for man in 
Anglo-Saxon poetry, and "is not a title as 
with us any more than beorn." Kemble.] 
2 Elder ! a lasting glory, T. Elder, of 
ancient race, I. But " tir " is not used sub- 
stantively in the present instance. " Eald- 
or langne-tir," or " Langne-tir ealdor," 
exhibits the same inverted construction as 
" flota fami -heals," ship foamy-necked; 
" aetheling aer-god," noble exceeding-good, 
&c. The present translation of "tir" 
is founded upon an etymology pointed out 
in the glossary to Saemund's Edda, where 
it is declared to be synonymous with the 
Danish " zyr," and the German " zier." 
In the Low German dialects, the z of the 
upper circles (which is compounded of t, s, 
like the Greek of d, s) is almost always 
represented by t, and splendour, bright- 
ness, glory, &c. are certainly among the 
most prevalent ideas attached to " tir " 
when used as a substantive. If this in- 
terpretation be correct, power, dominion, 
or victory, must be considered as only se- 
condary meanings; and the compound ad- 
jectives "tir-meahtig" (exceeding mighty), 
" tir-faest " (exceeding faster firm), " tir- 
eadig" (exceeding blessed), evidently 
point to the first of these. There can be little 
doubt but the following passage of Beowulf 
(iv.) preserves another compound of" tir :" 
Ed. Thorkelin, p. 24 : ed. Kemble, 1. 583. 

Swylce ic magu-thegnas, 

mine hate, 

with feonda gehwone, 

flotan eowerne, 

niw tyr-wydne, 



geslogon * set secce, 
sweorda ecgum, 
ymbe Brunanburh. 
Bord-weal clufon, 
heowon heatho-linda 3 , 

combated in [at] battle, [in battle won] 

with edges of swords, 

near Brunanburh. 

(They) clove the board-wall, 

hewed the high lindens [war -lindens], 

nacan on sande, 
arum healdan- 

And I will also 

order my fellow-thanes, 

against every foe, 

your vessel 

deep (and) exceeding wide, 

boat on the sand, 

carefully to hold. 

" Niwe " is here equivalent to " niwel ; " 
as in the expression " niwe be naesse, 
low by the nose or promontory. " Tyr- 
wydne nacan" is clearly synonymous 
with " sid-faethmed scip," the wide-bo- 
somed ship, occurring shortly afterwards. 
The learned editor's version, pice obduc- 
tam, is founded on an expression still pre- 
served in his native language (Icelandic), 
and of which Hire has recorded the fol- 
lowing example : " Let ban leggia eld i 
tyrwid oc gb'ra bala scipino ; " Jussit ig- 
nem taedae subjiciendum, pyramque in 
nave struendam. " Arum," which the La- 
tin version renders " remis," is used ad- 
verbially, like hwilum, gyddum, &c. The 
vessel lay upon the beach, and was after- 
wards moored; there could therefore be 
no use for her oars. The present version 
of "arum" is founded on the following 
passage, where Waltheow says she has no 
doubt but Hrothulf will prove a kind pro- 
tector to her children : 

ThaRt he tha geogothe wile, 

arum healdan. 

That he the youths will 

carefully protect (hold). 1. 2363. 
"Arum" (lit. with cares, attentions,) is in 
the dative case plural. See note 34. 

[" The objections to Mr. Turner's and Mr. 
Ingram's translations are not greater than 
those to Mr. Price's, but his note is more 
objectionable still. Tir, says the note, is 
an adjective: 1 know none such ; nor even 
were there such an adjective, compounded 
with another adjective, could the first part 
of the compound have, when joined with 
the second, an accusative case. In this it 
differs from the compounds cited in the 
note, and from all others ; for the first 
\vord in a compound never has either 
gender, number or case. The same ob- 
jection does not apply to the new reading 
cited from Beowulf; yet, were it to be 
translated as Mr. Price thinks, not niw- 
tirwydne, new-pitched, but niw tir-wydne, 
deep and exceedingly wide, it would remain 

to be shown why one adjective was, as it 
ought to be, in the masc. ace. sing., while 
the first remained altogether without an 
inflection : of course nacan, rymbam, would 
require niwne as well as tyr-wydne. 
The fact is thattir is a substantive, ealdor- 
langne the compound adjective [so " ond- 
langne," p. Ixxiii. R. T.] agreeing with 
it, and the whole passage must be trans- 
lated thus, 'a life-long glory they won 
by striking, at the battle.' Ealdor, vita, 
is quite as common in A.-S. poetry as 
ealdor, princeps." K.] 

* [geslogon, &c. Thus Caedm. p. 129. 
1. 26. 

ac Ju most heonon hufte laedan. 

]>e ic be set hilde gesloh. 

but thou hence may'stlead the spoil, 

which I for thee have won in battle. 
See also Grundtvig's Pref. to transl. of 
Beow. p. xxvi.] 

3 They hewed the noble banners, T. 
And hewed their banners, I. In this in- 
terpretation of " lind" all our vocabu- 
laries agree. The translation of the text 
has been founded upon the following au- 
thorities. When Beowulf resolves to 
encounter the "fire-drake" who had laid 
waste his territory, he orders a " wig- 
bord," war-board (as it is called), of iron 
to be made ; for we are told that, 

Wisse he gearwe, 

thaet him holt-wudu, 

helpan ne meahte, 

lind with lige. 

He knew readily, 

that him forest-wood 

might not help, 

linden against fire. 1.4673. 

And when Wiglaf prepares to join his 
lord in the combat, it is said of him : 

Hond-rond gefeng, 

Geolwe linde, 

Hand-round he seized 

the yellow linden. 1. 5215. 

[Rask objects to this translation, Angl. 
Sax. Gr.. Pref. Iviii., as erroneously im- 
plying a connexion between the adjective 
round and the Iceland. rond,clypeus, and 
suggests manuale scutum as the more pro- 
per version. M.] 

In the fragment of Judith, (Thorpe, 
Anal. p. 137.) "lind" and " bord" are 
used in the same connexion as in the pre- 
sent text : 



hamora lafura 4 , 
eaforan Eadweardes. 
Swa him geoethele 5 wses 

with relics of hammers (i. e. swords), 
(the) children \_offspring~\ of Edward. 
Such [so] was to them (their native) no- 
\_As was their nature] [bility, 

Stopon heatho-rincas, 

beornas to beadowe, 

bordum betheahte, 

hwealfum linduin. 

(The) [lofty] warriors stepped, 

bairns [barons'] to (the) battle, 

bedeckt (with) boards, 

(with) concave lindens. 
The following extract from the fragment 
of Brithnoth shows both terms to have 
been synonymous : 

Leofsunu gemaelde, 

and his lind ahof, 

bordtogebeorge. Thorpe, An. p. 128. 

Leofsunu spoke, 

and hove up his linden, 

[his] board for protection. 
It may, however, be contended, that 
though " lind " in all these passages evi- 
dently means a shield ; yet " heatholind," 
whose qualifying adjective seems rather 
an inappropriate epithet for a buckler, 
may have a different import. The fol- 
lowing examples of a similar combination 
will remove even this objection : 

Ne hyrde ic cymlicor 

ceol gegyrwan, 


and heatho-wsedum, 

billum and byrnum. Beow. 1. 75. 

Nor heard I of a comelier 

keel (ship) prepared, 

(with) war weapons, 

and high-weeds, (garments) [battle- 

with bills and burnies. weeds] 

Nemne him heatho-byrne 

helpe gefremede. 

Unless him (his) high-burnie [war- 

with help had assisted. mail] 

Mr. Grimm found this expression in the 
Low-Saxon fragment of Hildebrand and 
Hathubrand, where, misled by the com- 
mon interpretation of " lind-wiggende," 
vexilliferi he has expended much inge- 
nuity and learning in making a very sim- 
ple narrative unnecessarily obscure. 

hewun harmlicco 

huitte scilti, 

unti im iro lintun 

luttilo wurtun. 

(they) hewed harm-like 

(their) white shields, 

until to them their lindens 

became little. 

Mr. Grimm translates "lintun," gebende 
bands or girdles. 

[" Heafto does not signify altus, the in- 
congruity of which epithet when applied 
to a shield has not escaped Mr. Price. It 
denotes bellum, and is merely a prefix. 
See the Gloss. Beow. vol. i." K.] 

4 The survivors of the family, T. With 
the wrecks of their hammers, I. The 
only authority for the former interpreta- 
tion is a meaning assigned to " hamora" 
in Lye's vocabulary. It will be suffi- 
cient to remark, that if there were any 
thing like probability to justify such a 
translation, we ought at least to read 
" With the survivors of the family ;" as 
" lafum" stands in the ablative case plu- 
ral. A similar expression occurs once in 
Beowulf, where we know from the con- 
text that neither of the versions cited above 
would suit the sense. The sword of 
Wiglaf has recently severed the dragon's 
body in two : with reference to which it 
is said, 

Ac him irenna, 

ecga fornamon, 

hearde heatho-scearde, 

homera lafe, 

thaet se wid-floga, 

wundum stille, 

hreas on hrusan, 

hord-aerne neah, 

But him iron 

edges seized, 

the hard high-sherd [war-sherds]^ 

(the) relic of hammers, 

that the wide-flier, 

still (quiet) with wounds, 

fell on the earth, 

hoard-hall near. 1. 5651. 

In this poem " gomel-laf, eald-laf, yrfe- 
laf," are common expressions for - 
sword ; and there can be little doubr jut 
the language of the text is a m^ a P no " 
rical description of such a w 
similar phrase in Icelandic 

w uld 

occasion no difficulty. 
Gloss. Beow. vol. i. p. 2"' 

;e Kemble 

ancestors, T. **; 
kindred zeal, I. re '? thele , ls 
Xeyopei/ov. ~! y, ersl n f ; he text is 
founded on ,/ e foll wng declaration of 

^lfwine ? jIlowerofBrithnoth: 
j c v lle mine aethelo 
p . urn gecythan. 



from cneo-maegum 
thaet hie aet campe oft 6 , 
with lathra gehwaene, 
land ealgodon, 
hord and hamas, 
hettend crungon 7 . 

thaet ic waes on Myrcon 
miccles cynnes. 

I will my nobility 

manifest to all, 

that I among Mercians was 

of a mickle kin. Thorpe, An. p. 127. 

Mr. Ingram's translation of cneo-maegum 
kindred zeal, is perfectly indefensible. 
[Rask, in the Preface to his Anglo- 
Saxon Grammar, p. Iviii., remarks on 
Price's translation of this word: " geseSele 
baud invenit [scil. in Bjbrnonis Haldor- 
sonii Lexico], itaque per a)?elo, i. e. aejjelo 
nobilitas exposuit, quum tamen ae]?elo gen. 
fern, sit, et a geaeftele neut. gen. diversum ; 
scribitur enim hoc (ge, more Isl. abjecto) 
Islandis eftli, et a Bjbrnone aeque recte 
natura, indoles, genius vertitur." M.] 

6 That they in the field often, T. That 
they at camp often, I. Yet " camp- 
stede " is translated battle-place by Mr. 
Tui'ner, and field of battle by Mr. Ingram. 
" JEt campe " would have been equally 
descriptive of a sea-fight. It has no 
connexion with our modern camp, Fr. 
campus, Lat. 

7 Pursuing they destroyed the Scottish 
people, T. Pursuing fell the Scottish 
clans, I. In these translations " hettend 
crungon " is separated from its context ; 
and though it is a common practice of 
Anglo-Saxon poetry to unite by the alli- 
teration, lines wholly unconnected by the 
sense, yet in the present instance both 
are terminated by the same period. It 
may be questioned whether " hettan," 
persequi, has any existence beyond the 
pages of Lye, where it is inserted as the 
root of " hettend." There is reason to 

Mieve,' that it was obsolete at a very 
al -r period, and that its participle pre- 
mt a. ne was retained in a substantive 
au n to denote an enemy or pur- 
suing one. xy hen the verb wag required 
it would .eem, havebeenuaed 
the aspirate : 

Ehtende waes \ 
deorc death scua, 
duguthe and geogov^ 

Pursuing was 

(the) dark death shado 

old (ad lit. valentes) and 


from (their) ancestors, 

that they in [at] battle oft, 

against every foe [loathed one], 

(the) land preserved [defended] , 

hoard and homes, 

(the) enemy crushed, [cringed, actively.'] 

At all events, the examples recorded by 
Lye only exhibit the substantive hettend, 
to which the following may be added : 

Gif ic thaet gefricge, 
ofer floda-begang, 
thaet thec ymbsittende 
egesan thywath, 
swa thec hetende 
hwilum dydon. 

If I that hear, 

over the floods-gang, 

that thee the round-sitting ones 

oppress with terror, 

so (as) thee enemies 

(ere) while did. Beow. 1. 3648. 

Syth-than hie gefricgeath 

frean userne 

ealdor-leasne ; 

thone the aer geheold, 

with hettendum, 

hord and rice. 

After that they hear 

our sovereign (to be) 

life-less ; 

he who ere held, 

against (our) foes, 

hoard and kingdom. Ib. I. 5999. 

Mr. Ingram's translation is obviously in- 
correct. The whole context proves the 
Scots to have been the yielding party, 
and consequently they were the pur- 
sued, not those pursuing; and if, with 
Mr. Turner, we apply " pursuing" to 
the victors, Athelstan and Edward, the 
participle (as it then would be) ought to 
stand in the nominative case plural 
hettende and not in the accusative sin- 

[" There is a dangerous mixture of 
ehtian, persequi, and hatian, odlsse, in 
this note ; I should be inclined to think 
that ehtian comes from oht, terror. Het- 
tan, according to the custom ofthe A. S. 
which in certain cases doubles a conso- 
nant instead of writing it before i or j t 
corresponds to the Gothic hatjan, odisse. 
There is, however,-another verb in Gothic, 
viz. hatan, and this the Anglo-Saxon 
seems to have followed in its verb, while 
it recorded the existence of the other by 
forming from it such a participial noun 
as hettend, inimicus, which, like feond, 
hostis, freond, amicus, is really the par- 



Scotta leode, 
and scip-flotan, 
faege feollon 8 . 
Feld dennade*, 
secga swate 9 , 

(The) Scottish people, 
and the mariners, 
fated fell. 

The field , \_flw! d\ 

with warriors' blood, 

ticiple of a verb used as a noun. There 
should be a full stop after hamas. Het- 
tend is the nom. to crungon : the foes 
bowed, cringed. So in Beowulf, 1. 2419, 
' he under rande gecranc,' he cringed under 
shield, i.e. died." K.] 

They fell dead, T. In numbers fell, I. 
This expression occurs again below, "faege 
to feohte," where Mr. Ingram expounds 
it, the hardy fight. It seems almost su- 
perfluous to add, that one of these inter- 
pretations must be erroneous ; and it will 
be shown immediately that neither is 
correct. Mr. Turner with more consist- 
ency translates the second example " for 
deadly fight;" making " faege" an adjec- 
tive agreeing with " feohte," and conse- 
quently like its substantive governed by 
the preposition "to." But independently 
of the impossibility to produce an ex- 
ample, where any Anglo-Saxon prepo- 
sition exhibits this twofold power, a 
retroactive and prospective regimen, 
the dative singular and plural of "faege" 
would be either " faegum " or " faegan," 
accordingly as it was used with the defi- 
nite or indefinite article. In the lan- 
guages of the North, " faege," however 
written, means fated to die ; or, to use 
the interpretation of the Glossary to Sae- 
mund's Edda, morti jam destinatus, brevi 
moriturus. [The Scotch Fey.'} This is the 
only version equally suited to both ex- 
amples in the present text ; and it might 
be supported by numerous instances from 
Caedmon and Beowulf. A confirmation of 
its general import may also be drawn from 
the use of " unfaegne " in the latter poem. 

Wyrd oft nereth 
unfaegne eorl, 
thonne his ellen deah. 

Fate oft preserveth 
a man not fated to die, 
when his courage is good for aught. 
Beowulf, 1. 1139. 

[The word occurs in similar passages of 
Layamon : fseie ther feollen, 1. 1742. 

feollen the faeie 
falewede nebbes. K 4162. 
See, further, the Additional Note in p. 
Ixxxi. R. T.] 

* The Cotton MS. Tiberius B. iv. reads 
" dennode ;" Tiberius A. vi. and B. i. 
read " dennade," which is supported by 
the Cambridge MS. For this unusual 
expression no satisfactory meaning has 

been found ; and it is left to the ingenuity 
and better fortune of some future trans- 
lator. Mr. Turner and Mr. Ingram, who 
render this line the field resounded, 
mid the din of the field have followed a 
reading recorded by Gibson, " dynede," 
and which, notwithstanding the collective 
authority of four excellent manuscripts in 
favour of the present text, is possibly cor- 
rect. In this case, however, " dynede " 
must not be interpreted in a literal sense, 
but considered as synonymous with the 
Icelandic " dundi," from " dynia," re- 
sonare, irruere. " Blodid dundi [dynede] 
og tarin tidt," Creberrima erat stillatio 
turn sanguinis, turn lacrymarum. " Hridin 
dynr yfir," procella cum strepitu irruit. 
[Rask confirms Mr. Price's conjecture, 
and refers to Biorn Haldorsen's Lexic. 
Island.* v. Dyn. Hen. Huntind. reads 
" colles resonuerunt." Layamon has 
"eorthe dunede;" 1.21230. R. T.] 

9 The warriors swate, T. The warrior 
swate, I. To justify these translations 
we ought to read either, " secgas switon" 
or " secg swat." The latter, which offers 
least violence to the text, is clearly im- 
possible, since no line of Anglo-Saxon 
poetry can have less than four syllables. 
There is however no necessity for chan- 
ging a single letter of the text, as " swate " 
is the dat. case sing, of " swat," blood, and 
" secga " the gen. plural of " secg." It 
may be safely asserted that " swat " in 
Anglo-Saxon poetry never means "sweat" 
in its modern acceptation. 

Tha thaet sweord ongan, 

setter heatho-swate, 

hilde gicelum, 

wig-bil wanian. 

Then that sword began, 

after the mighty blood [war-blood~], 

with battle-droppings, 

war-bill (to) wane. Beowulf, 1. 3210. 

Swa thaet blod gesprang, 

hatost heatho-swata. 

So that blood sprang, 

hottest mighty gorelbattle-gore}. 1.3333. 

Wulf Wonreding 

waepne geraehte, 

thaet him for swenge, 

swat aedrum sprong. 

Wolf the son of Wonred 

reached (him) with weapon, 

that to him for the swinge (blow) 

blood from the veins sprang. 1. 5925. 



sith-than sunne up, 

on inorgen-tld, 

maere tuncgol, 

glad ofer grundas 101 , 

Godes candel beorht, 

eces Drihtnes ; 

oth-thset sio aethele gesceaft, 

sah to setle 11 . 

Thaer laeg secg monig, 

garuni ageted, 

guman northerne, 

ofer scyld scoten. 

Swylc Scyttisc eac, 

werig wiges saed 12 . 

West-Seaxe forth, 

ondlangne daeg, 

since the sun up, 

on morrow-tide, 

mighty planet, 

glided over grounds, [Me deeps~\ 

bright candle of God, 

of the eternal Lord ; 

till the noble creature 

sank to (her) seat [settle}. 

There lay many a warrior, 

strewed by darts, 

northern man*, [mewj 

shot over (the) shield. 

So Scottish eke, 

weary of war . [weary p , sated with war.'] 

The West- Saxons forth, 

the continuous day, 

The German " schweiss " (sweat) still 
means the blood of a wild boar. 

[The above assertion concerning the 
meaning of swat in Anglo-Saxon poetry 
must be taken with some limitation, for in 
the three instances of its use referred to 
in the Index to Caedmon, the first is, 
p. 31. 1. 8. 

sceolde on wite a 
mid swate and mid sorgum, 
siftftan libban, 

where it can have no other meaning but 
sweat, and is so rendered by Thorpe. 

1 Glad, T. and I. But " glad " is the 
past tense of glidan, to glide ; and formed 
like rad from ridan, bad from bidan, &c. 
in all of which the accentuated a was pro- 
nounced like o in rode. It is the glode 
of " Le Bone Florence of Rome." 
Thorow the foreste the lady rode, 
All glemed there sche glode, 

Till sche came in a felde. v. 1710. 
In Sir Launfal, Mr. Ritson leaves it un- 

Another cours together they r6d, 
That syr Launfal helm of-glod. v. 574. 
Unless we admit this interpretation of 
"glad," the first part of the proposition 
will be a mere string of predicates with- 
out a verb. The antithesis to "glad ofer 
grundas " is " sah to setle." 

[In Beowulf, 1. 4140. Mr. Kemble ren- 
ders "syththan heofones gim glad ofer 
grundas,"." after the gem of heaven glided 
over the deeps." R. T.] 

11 Hastened to her setting, T. Sat in 
the western main, I. Sah is the past 
tense of sigan, to incline, sink down ; 
and follows the same norm as stall, from 
stigan ; hnah, from hnigan, &c. 

' ["man" is wrong. The line is an 

apposition to " secg monig," and is in the 
nom. pi. THORPE.] 

12 Weary with ruddy battle, T. The 
mighty seed of Mars, I. In the first of 
these versions the reading of the Cotton 
MSS. Tiberius B. iv. has been followed : 
" werig wiges raed." This manuscript, 
however, exhibits great marks of negli- 
gence on the part of the transcriber, and, 
if correct in its orthography on the pre- 
sent occasion, is equally obscure with the 
language of the other copies. " Raed " 
cannot be the adjective red, as this would 
give us a false concord. [Mr. Bosworth 
gives "saed" in his text, and 'ruddy' in 
his version. Mr. Henshall, in that which 
he seems to have led Mr. Ellis to believe 
a literal version, and therefore obscure ! 
(Specimens, vol. i.p. 15.) renders the pass- 
age "red with worrying war"!] If "saed" 
be the genuine reading, it would be diffi- 
cult to point out a better authenticated 
version than Mr. Ingram's, provided the 
word is to be taken substantively. But 
even this has been rejected, from a feeling 
that the context requires a verb, and a 
doubt whether such a metaphor be in uni- 
son with the general spirit of Anglo-Saxon 
poetry. [Mr. Price adds, in a note in 
p. (119), edit. 1824, of his preface, " If 
for ' werig wiges saed ' we read ' werig and 
wiges saed,' weary and sad of (on account 
of, the) war, the present difficulty va- 
nishes, and the expression may be justi- 
fied by the ' hilde ssedne ' of Beowulf, ed. 
Thorkelin, p. 202," where it is errone- 
ously printed " faedne." Mr. Kemble's 
rendering is, however, without doubt the 
right one, "satiated with battle"; see his 
edition, 1837, and Glossary. So also 
M. Goth, "sad, sothjan," satur, satin-are; 
Is), "saddr," Gerrn. ''satt," Fris. "saath." 



eorod-cystum 13 , 
on last laegdon 
lathum theodum. 
Heowon here-flyman, 
hindan thearle 14 , 
mecum mylen-scearpum 
Myrce ne wyrndon 
heardes hand-plegan, 
haeletha nanum, 
thara the mid Anlafe, 
ofer ear-geblond, 
on lides bosme, 
land gesohton, 
faege to feohte. 
Fife laegon, 
on tham campstede, 
cyningas geonge, 
sweordum aswefede. 

Swylc seofen eac, 
eorlas Anlafes ; 
unrim heriges 16 , 

in battalions, 

laid on the foot-steps 

to the loathed race. 

(They) hewed (the) fugitives 
hind wards exceedingly \_from behind amain,~] 
5 . with swords mill-sharp. 

The Mercians refused not 

the hard hand-play, 

to none of the men \_to any heroes^ 

of those who with Anlaf, 

over the ocean, 

in [on] the ship's bosom, 

sought (our) land, 

fated to the fight. 

Five lay, 

on the battle-stead, 

young kings, 

soothed [slumbered, act.~] with swords. 
[by swords in slumber laid.] 

So seven eke, 

earls of Anlaf 's ; 

numberless of the army, 

13 With a chosen band, T. With chosen 
troops, I. The Anglo-Saxon " cysta," 
though clearly derived from " ceosan " to 
choose, appears to have obtained a speci- 
fic meaning somewhat similar to our regi- 
ment or battalion. 

Hsefde cista gehwilc, 
cuthes werodes, 
tyn hund geteled. 
Had each cista, 
of approved troops, 
of spear-bearing, 
of war enacting (ones) 
ten hundred taled (numbered). 
Caedm. 67. 25. Ed. Thorpe, 192. 

["cista" is the gen. pi. and cannot 
have the same form in the nom. ; the geni- 
tive of cista would be cistena. The nom. 
is cist, gen. cista. THORPE.] 

14 The behind ones fiercely, T. Scat- 
tered the rear, I. But " hindan " pos- 
sesses the same adverbial power as 
"eastan" occurring below. [This power, 
however, is derived from its termination 
"on," which, like the Greek 9ev, de- 
notes motion from a place. See Rask, 
339. II. T.] 

15 This reading has been retained on 
the authority of the Cotton MSS. Tibe- 
rius A. vi. B. i. The reasons for such 

an epithet are not so clear, however ob- 
vious this would be if applied to modern 
times. But with our present limited 
knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon language, 
and of the arts, customs and modes of 
thinking of our ancestors, it would be 
highly absurd to reject an expression, 
merely because its propriety is not felt. 
The more intelligible reading " mycel 
scearpum " wears all the appearance of a 
gloss. [Mill-sharp; from the grindstone 
with which the weapons were made keen : 
so " scur-heard," hardened by scouring ; 
"feol-scearp," sharpened with the file, 
file-sharp. KKMBLE.] 

16 And innumerable of the army of the 
fleet and the Scots. There was chased 
away, the lord of the Northmen, by ne- 
cessity driven to the voice of the ship. 
With a small host, with the crew of his 
ship, the king of the fleet departed on the 
yellow flood. T. And of the ship's crew 
unnumbered crowds. There was dis- 
persed the little band of hardy Scots, the 
dread of the Northern hordes urged to 
the noisy deep by unrelenting fate. The 
king of the fleet with his slender craft 
escaped with his life on the felon flood. I. 
The present translation differs occasion- 
ally from both these versions. Where it 
agrees with either, no vindication will be 
necessary; but some of its variations are 
too important not to require an account 



flotan and Sceotta. 
Thaer geflymed wearth 
Northmanna bregu, 
nyde geb^ded, 
to lides stefne, 

of sailors and Scots. 

There was chased away 

the leader of the Northmen, (i. e. Anlaf.) 

compelled by need, 

to the ship's prow, 

of the authorities from whence they are 
derived. The Anglo-Saxon "flota" (the 
floater) equally meant a ship and a sailor. 

Flota waes on ythum, 

bat under beorge. 

Ship was on the waters, 

boat under rock. Beowulf, 1. 419. 
Of its secondary meaning, a sailor, an 
example has already occurred in the com- 
pound, " scip-flota ; " and the fragment of 
Brithnoth has preserved the simple sub- 
stantive, as in the present text: 

Se flod ut-gewat, 

tha flotan stodon gearowe, 

wicinga fela, 

wiges georne. 

The flood departed out, 

the sailors stood prepared, 

of the vikings many, 

desirous of battle. 

Thorpe, Anal. p. 123. 
"Stefn " like " flota " had also a twofold 
meaning. Lye has only recorded one of 
these the human voice, and upon this 
both the interpretations cited above are 
evidently founded. But it likewise im- 
plied the prow of a ship ; and this is the 
only sense which will give connexion or 
intelligence to the present narrative. A 
similar example occurs in Beowulf: 

Flota waes on ythum, 

bat under beorge, 

beornas gearwe 

on stefn stigon. 

Ship was on the waters, 

boat under rock, 

(the) bairns [barons] readily 

ascended the prow. 1. 419. 

[So " from stem to stern : " and Milton 
"stemming nightly tow'rd the pole." 
R. T.] In German," Steven " still means 
the stem of a ship ; and in Danish this part 
of a vessel is called the For-staevn, by way 
of distinction from the Bag-stsevn, or stern. 
It will also be found in the second part of 
the Edda: 

Brim-runar scaltu rista, 

ef thu vilt borgit hafa, 

a sundi segl-maurom; 

a stafni thaer seal rista, 

oc a starnar-blatha, 

oc leggia eld i ar. 

Sea-runes shalt thou carve, 

if thou wilt have protected, 

sail-horses (ships) in the sea ; 

in the prow shalt (thou) carve 

and in the stern-blade, (rudder) 

and lay fire in the oar. 
But "stefn " must not be confounded with 
" stefna," a ship, frequently occurring in 
Beowulf, and which the Latin translation 
always (I believe) renders " prora." 

Gewat thse ofer waeg-holm, 

winde gefysed, 

flota fami-heals, 

fugle gelicost. 

Oth-thset ymb an tid, 

otheres dogores, 

wunden stefna, 

gewaden haefde, 

thset tha lithende 

land gesawon. 

Departed then over (the) billowy 

hastened by the wind, [main, 

the foamy-necked ship, 

likest to a fowl. 

Till that about six o'clock 

of the other (next) day, 

the curved bark 

had (so) waded, 

that the voyagers 

saw land. 1. 432. 

For an illustration of "cread" the reader 
is referred to vol. ii. p. 71, where this line 
is translated. And in further support of 
the version there given, the following ex- 
tract from the fragment of Brithnoth may 
be quoted: (Thorpe, Anal. p. 122.) 

We willath mid tham sceattum, 

us to scype gangan, 

on-flot iferan, 

and eow frithes healdan. 

We will with the scot (treasures) 

us to ship gang, 

afloat proceed, 

and hold peace with you. 
[" It should be remarked that the 
distinction between stefn, prora, and 
stefn, vox, depends upon their genders, 
the former being masc., the latter fern. 
When a is appended to a substantive of 
this nature, it converts it into a kind of 
epicene masc., denoting that the person 
represented is distinguished by the pos- 
session of, or partaking in, that which the 
original substantive signified : thus neb, a 
beak, has hyrned-nebba, the horned beak- 
ed one, i. e. the raven. Here, also, wun- 
den-stefna means the curved prowed one, 
i. e. the /iip." K.] 



litle werede. 

Cread cnear* on-flot, 

cyning ut-gewat, 

on fealone flod, 

feorh generede. 

Swylc thaer eac se froda 17 , 

mid fleame corn, 

on his cyththe north, 


har hylderinc 18 . 

Hreman ne thorfte 

meca gemanan-f-. 

Her waes his maga sceard 19 , 

with a little band. 

(The) ship drove [crowded] afloat, 

(the) king departed out, 

on the fallow flood, 

preserved (his) life. 

So there also the sapient \_venerable~] one 

by flight came 

on \_to~] his country north, 


hoary warrior. 

He needed not to boast 

of the commerce of swords. men'] 

Here was his kindred troop [bandofkins- 

* [Ohg. chnar O. N. knorr, navis mer- 
catoria, navigium. TH.] 

17 The routed one, T. the valiant 
chief, I. By which of these epithets are 
we to translate the title bestowed upon 
Saemund, for his extraordinary learning ? 
Saemundr Iciinnfrodi. The age of Con- 
stantine procured for him this distinction, 
which in Beowulf is so frequently applied 
to the veteran Hrothgar. [Mr. Kemble's 
Glossary to Beowulf has " frod, setate pro- 
vectus, prudens."] 

18 The hoarse din of Hilda, T. The 
hoary Hildrinc, I. It is quite an assump- 
tion of modern writers, that this goddess 
of war was acknowledged by the Anglo- 
Saxons; and no ingenuity can reconcile 
Mr. Turner's translation with the Anglo- 
Saxon text. Mr. Ingram most unnecessarily 
makes " hylderinc " a proper name, which, 
if correct on the present occasion, would be 
equally so in the following passage, where 
Beowulf plunges into the "mere" to seek 
the residence of Grendel's mother: 

Brim-wylm onfeng 


Sea- wave received 

(the) warrior: 1. 2988. 

or in the preamble to Brithnoth's dying 
address : 

Tha gyt that word gecwseth 

har hilderinc. 

Then yet the word quoth 

(the) hoary warrior. 

Thorpe, Anal. p. 126. 
With these examples before us, there can 
be little doubt but that we ought to insert 
"rinc" in the following extract relating 
to the funeral obsequies of Beowulf: 

That waes wunden gold, 

on waen hladen, 

seghwaes unrim, 

aethelinge boren, 

har hilde [rinc] [deor, K.] 

to Hrones-naesse. 

Then was the twisted gold 

on wain laden, 

numberless of each 

with the atheling borne, 

hoary warrior, 

to Hron's-ness. 1. 6262. 

f Mr. Ingram, who reads " maecan 
gemanan," translates it " among his 
kindred." But " maeca," if it exist at 
all as a nominative case, can never mean 
" a relative." 

19 He was the fragment of his relations, 
of his friends felled in the folk-place, T. 
Here was his remnant of relations and 
friends slain with the sword in the crowd- 
ed fight, I. It is difficult to conceive upon 
what principle the soldiers of Constantine, 
who fell in the battle, could be called 
either the fragment or remnant of his fol- 
lowers. A similar expression here-laf 
is afterwards applied with evident pro- 
priety to the survivors of the conflict. 
The present translation has been hazard- 
ed, from a belief that " sceard " is syno- 
nymous with " sceare " (the German 
schaar, a band or troop) ; and " maga- 
sceard," like "mago-driht," descriptive 
of the personal or household troops of 

Tha wses Hrothgare, 

here-sped gyfen, 

wiges weorth-mynd; 

thast him his wine-magas, 

georne hyrdon 

oth thaet seo geogoth geweox 

-mago-driht micel. 

Then was to Hrothgar 

army-success given, 

honour of war ; 

that him his friendly-relatives 

willingly heard (obeyed) 

till the youth waxed (in years) 

mickle kindred band. 1. 128. 



freonda* gefylled, 
on folc-stede, 
beslaegen aet secce; 
and his sunu (he) forlet 
on wsel-stowe, 
geongne aet guthe. 
Gylpan ne thorfte, 
beorn blanden-feax 20 , 
eald inwitta 21 ; 
ne Anlaf thy ma, 
mid heora here-lafum, 
hlihan ne thorfton, 
thset hi beadu-weorca 22 
beteran wurdon, 
on camp-stede, 
gar mittinge 23 , 
gumena gemotes, 

of friends destroyed (felled), \_deprivedof 

on the folk-stead, friends'] 

slain \_bereft-\~\ in [at] battle; 

and his son he left 

on the slaughter-place, 

mangled with wounds, 

young in [at] the fight. 

He needed not to boast, 

bairn \_warrior~] blended- haired, 

of the bill-clashing, 

old deceiver; 

nor Anlaf any more, 

with the relics of their armies, 

needed not to laugh, 

that they of warlike works 

better (men) were, 

on the battle-stead, 

at [of] the conflict of banners, 

the meeting of spears, 

the assembly of men, 

the interchange of weapons, 

* [That is, deprived through their be- 
ing felled (befylled.) TH.] 

f [Bereft through their being slain (be- 
slaegen) : such in these two instances and 
elsewhere being the force of the privative 
it?. TH.] 

20 The lad with flaxen hair, T. The 
fair-haired youth, I. Mr. Turner appears 
to refer these expressions to Constantine's 
son ; Mr. Ingram certainly does. There 
would be little propriety in declaring a 
dead man's inability to boast, or the un- 
fitness of such a proceeding even if there 
were any thing to colour such an inter- 
pretation. But blonden-feax is a phrase 
which in Anglo-Saxon poetry is only ap- 
plied to those advanced in life ; and is 
used to denote that mixture of colour 
which the hair assumes on approaching 
or increasing senility. The German 
" blond," at the present day, marks a co- 
lour neither white nor brown, but mingled 
with tints of each. [In Csedmon, "blonden 
feax" is applied to Sarah and to Lot See 
Mr. Thorpe's edit, and the note, p. 141. 
-R. T.] 

21 The old in wit, T. Nor old Inwood, 
I. The orthography of the present text 
is supported by the Cotton MSS. Tiberius 
A. vi. & B. i. Mr. Ingram reads " in- 
widda," of which he has made " Inwood ;" 
though the learned translator has omitted 
to inform us who this venerable personage 
might be. It is rather singular that he 
should appear again, with no slight ubi- 
quity of person, in the fragment of Judith : 

Swa se inwidda, 
ofer ealne daeg, 
dryht-guman sine 
drencte mid wine. 

So the deceiver, 
over the whole day, 
his followers 
drenched with wine. 

Thorpe, Anal. p. 132. 

[Mr. Henshall has made of it " old in 
wisdom ;" and of " Beorn blanden feax, 
bill geslihtes," " His barons bold in fight, 
slaughtered by the bill;" "With Bad 
wardes eaforan plegodon," " Guarded by 
an oath of or en pledged." His version, 
indeed, abounds throughout with the most 
preposterous blunders and absurdities ; 
yet it seems to have been accepted with 
thankfulness by Mr. G. Ellis, and was in- 
serted in his Specimens with unsuspecting 
faith, as being " as literal as possible." 
R. T.] 

22 That they for works of battle were, 
T. That they on the field of stern com- 
mand better workmen were, I. But 
" beado-weorca" is the genitive case 
plural of " beadu-weorc," and to justify 
these translations ought to have been 
" beadu-weorcum " (T.) or " beadu- 
wyrhtan" (I). 

23 Mr. Ingram reads "mittinges," which 
can only owe its existence to the negli- 
gence of a transcriber. The genitive case 
of " milling " is " mittinge." 



thaes the hie on wael-felda 

with Eadweardes 

eaforan plegodon. 

Gewiton hym tha Northmen, 

naegledon cnearrum, 

dreorig daretha laf 24 , 

on dinges 25 mere 26 , 

ofer deop wseter, 

Dyflin secan, 

eft Yraland 27 , 


Swylcef tha gebrother, 

begen aet samne, 

cyninsr and aetheling, 

cyththe sohton, 

West Seaxna land, 

wiges hremige 28 . 

Laeton him behindan, 

of that which* they on the slaughter-field 

with Edward's 


children played. 
The Northmen departed, 
(in their) nailed ships, 
gory relic of the darts, 


over deep water, 

Dublin to seek, 

Ireland again, 

with a shamed mind. 

So too the brothers, 

both together, 

king and prince, 

sought (their) country, 

land of the West Saxons, 

of \_in~\ (the) war exulting. 

(They) left behind them, 

* [For that they, $c.~\ [From the time 
that,$c. TH.] 

24 Dreary relics of the darts, T. Dreary 
remnant, I. This expression seems rath- 
er to refer to the wounded condition of 
the fugitives. The present version may 
be justified by the following extracts from 

Thonne wses theos medo-heal, 

driht-sele dreor-fah, 

thonne daeg lixte, 

eal benc-thelu, 

blode bestymed. 

Then was this mead-hall, 

troop-hall gore stained, 

when day lighted (dawned), 

all (the) table, 

sprinkled with blood. 1. 962. 

Thonne blode-fah, 
husa selest, 
heoro-dreorig stod. 

Then stained with blood, 

the best of houses, 

stood sword-gory. 1. 1862. 

Water under wolcnum, 
wael-dreore fah. 

Water under clouds, 

stained with slaughter-gore. 1. 3261. 

85 This reading has been retained in 
preference to the "dinnes" of Gibson, on 
the authority of Tiberius B. i. The other 
Cotton MSS. read " dynges" A. vi. 
" dynges " B. iv. 

26 On the stormy sea, T. On the 
roaring sea, I. There is every probability 
that these translations give the sense of 
this passage, though some doubts may be 

entertained as to the integrity of the pre- 
sent text. If " dynges-mere " be the 
genuine reading, it must be considered as 
a parallel phrase with " wiges-heard, 
hordes-heard," &c. where two substantives 
are united in one word, the former of 
which stands in the genitive case with an 
adjective power. Of this practice the ex- 
amples are too numerous and too noto- 
rious to require further illustration. 
"Dinges-mere " would then be a "ken- 
ningar nafn " given to the ocean from the 
continual clashing of its waves. For it 
will be remembered that the literal im- 
port of " mere " is a mere or lake, [qu.] 
and this could not be applied to the Irish 
channel without some qualifying expres- 
sion. Ids clearly impossible that "dinges," 
if correct, can stand alone, as "on" never 
governs a genitive case. On " thone 
mere," on " thsene mere." See Lye in 

27 Mr. Ingram retains " heora land" 
in the text, and translates the variation 
Yraland. All the Cotton MSS. unite 
in reading " eft "; and we learn from other 
sources that this statement is historically 

f [Postea frater uterque rediit West- 
sexe, belli reliquias post se deserentes, 
carnes virorum in escam paratas. Ergo 
corvus niger, ore cornutus, et buffo livens, 
aquila cum milvo, canis lupusque mixtus 
colore, his sunt deliciis diu recreati. Hen. 
Huntind. lib. v.] 

28 The screamers of war, T. In fight 
triumphant, I. It has already been said 
of the fugitive Constantine that he had no 
cause to exult hreman ne thorfte ; this 
is left to the victors. This expression 



hra brittian, 

salowig padan* 211 , 

thone sweartan hraefn, 

hyrned-nebban ; 

and thone hasean padan 

occurs repeatedly in Beowulf, where it is 
always applied to the successful party: 

Thanon eft gewat, 

huthe hremig, 

to ham faran, 

mid thaere wael-fylle, 

wica neosan. 

Thence (Grendel) again departed, 

with prey exulting, 

to home (to) go, 

with the slaughtered-slain, 

to approach (his) dwelling. 1. 246. 

Guth-rinc gold-wlanc, 

graes-moldan trsed, 

since hremig. 

Warrior (Beowulf) bright in gold, 

grass-mould trode, 

with wealth exulting. 1. 3758. 

Nu her thara banena, 

byre nat hwylces, 

fraetwum hremig, 

on flet gseth ; 

morthres gylpeth, 

and thone maththum 1 byreth, 

thone the thu mid rihte 

raedan sceoldest. 

Now of those banes (murderers), 

(the) son (I) know not of which, 

with ornaments exulting, 

in (the) hall goeth-; 

boasteth of the murder, 

and the jewel (i. e. a sword) beareth, 

that thou by right 

shouldest command (or wield). 

1. 4101. 

29 The dismal kite, T. The sallow 
kite, I. Whatever idea may have been 
attached to " padan ", it is manifestly not 
a species but a genus. It occurs again 
immediately as characteristic of the eagle. 
There is, however, reason to believe that 
these lines have been transposed, and that 
we ought to read 

Thone sweartan hrsefn, 
salowig padan. 

Caedmon unites with the present text 
in calling the raven both " swarth and 
sallow :" 

Let tha ymb worn daga 
sweartne fleogan, 
hraefn ofer heah flod. 
Noe tealde, 
thaet he on neode hine 

(the) corse to enjoy, 

(the) sallowy , [salloiu of coat'] 

(the) swarth raven, 

the horned nibbed one ; [with horned nib'] 

and the dusky 

-, [coated?'] [toad] 

secan wolde ; 

ac se feond, 

salwig fethera, 

secan nolde. Ed. Thorpe, p. 86.1. 30. 

Then after some days (he) let 

swarth fly, 

raven over high flood. 

Noah reckoned (told) 

that he from need him 

seek would; 

but the fiend, 

sallowy of feathers, 

would not seek (him). 33. 5. 

It will be remembered that the Anglo- 
Saxon "blac" was equivalent to our black 
and yellow. [Ger. bleich, pale, hence Angl. 
to bleach.] 

[In Beowulf, 1. 3599. we have "thaet 
hraefn blaca," which Mr. Kemble renders 
" the pale raven." In the Glossary to Beo- 
wulf, vol. i.p. 250, he refers "pada" to the 
Gothic Paida, tunica ; and points out the 
following epithets as formed with it : 
" salo-pad," and " sal wig-pad," in the 
Exeter Book, fol. 87 b. ; and "salwig- 
pada" Judith, p. 24 ; as also in the text 
above : qui vestem fulvum gerit : which 
then would be dun-coated, tawny-vested. 
See also the Glossary to Thorpe's Ana- 
lecta. R. T.] 

* [salowig padan (sallow of coat) is cer- 
tainly an epithet of the sweartan hraefn 
in the next line. There is no occasion, in 
such a composition, to suppose, with Mr. 
Price, any transposition. See n. 29. TH.] 

f [pada here may signify toad (pad- 
dock) the bufo of Hen. Hunt. TH.] 

30 And the hoarse toad, T. And the 
hoarse vulture, I. The latter version is 
totally without authority. The former 
is justified in part by our vocabularies, 
though evidently at variance with the 
context. The Cotton MSS. Tiberius A. vi. 
reads haso (the nom. case), which shows 
this word to have had a twofold termina- 
tion: haso and haswe like salo and 
salwe, fealo and fealwe. The nomencla- 
ture of Anglo-Saxon colours must neces- 
sarily be very obscure; but as we find ihe 
public road called " fealwe straete " (Beo- 
wulf); and the passage made for the Is- 
raelites over the Red Sea " haswe straeda" 
(Caedmon), the version of the present 
text cannot be materially out. 

1 Maththum must not be confounded with mathmum, the dative case plural of 



earn seftan hwit 31 , 
aeses brucan, 
graedigne guth-hafoc ; 
and thaet graege deor, 
wulf on wealde. 
Ne wearth wael mare, 
on thys igland, 
aefre gyta, 
folces gefylled, 
beforan thissum, 
sweordes ecgum, 
thaes the us secgath bee, 

ealde uthwitan, 
sith-than eastan hider 
Engle and Seaxe 
up becomon, 
ofer brade brimu 32 
Brytene sohton, 
wlance wig-smithas, 
Wealas 33 ofer-comon, 

eagle white behind [after], 

(of) the corse to enjoy, 

greedy war-hawk ; 

and that [t1ie~\ gray beast [deer], 

(the) wolf on \_in~\ the wold. 

Nor was (there) a greater slaughter, 

on this island, 

ever yet, 

of folk felled, 

before this, 

by (the) sword's edges, 

of [/rom]that that say to us (in) books, 

[according to what books tell us,'] 

old historians, 

since eastward [from * the east] hither 

Angles and Saxons 

up came, 

over (the) broad seas 

Britain sought, 

splendid \^proud~\ war-smiths, 

overcame (the) Welsh, [the strangers,~\ 

31 The eagle afterwards to feast on the 
white flesh, T. And the eagle swift to 
consume his prey, I. The very simplicity 
of the Anglo-Saxon text appears to have 
excited distrust in the only translation 
these words are susceptible of. The or- 
nithologist will perceive in it a description 
of the Haliaetus alUcilla, or white-tailed 
sea-eagle. The phrase is not without a 
parallel in Beowulf, where the bard is de- 
scribing the ashen lances with their steel- 
clad points: 

Garas stodon, 
saemanna searo, 
samod set gaedere, 
sesc holt ufan gvaeg. 

The spears stood, 

weapons of the seamen, 

collected together, 

ash-wood gray above. 1. fi54. 

There is so close a resemblance between 
the present text and a passage in the 
fragment of Judith, that it will not be too 
much to assume that they have been 
drawn from some common source, or that 
the one has had its influence in producing 
the other: 

Thaes se hlanca gefeah, 

wulf in walde, 

and se wanna hrefn, 

wael-gifre fugel, 

westan begen, 

thaet him tha theod-guman 

thohton tilian 

fylle on faegum. 
Ac him fleah on laste 
earn setes georn, 
urig fethera, 
salowig pada, 
sang hilde leoth, 
hyrned nebba. 

Of this rejoiced the lank 

wolf in the wold ; 

and the wan raven, 

slaughter-desiring fowl, 

westward both, [from the west] 

that to them the people, 

thought to prepare 

a falling among the fated. 

But on their footsteps flew 

eagle of food desirous, 

dewy (?) of feathers, 

sallowy , [coated~\ 

sang the war song, 
horned nibbed one. 

Thorpe, Anal. p. 137. 
[From Caedmon may also be added : 

Sang se wanna fugel 
under deoreth-sceaftum 
deawig fethera. 

Ed. Thorpe, p. 1 1 9. 1. 22. R. T.] 
* [Rask, No. 339.] 

32 Mr. Ingram reads "brimum brade," 
which is a false concord. All the Cotton 
MSS. agree in the reading of the present 

33 As this name is foreign to the Celtic 
dialects, it probably was conferred upon 
the inhabitants by their Teutonic neigh- 



eorlas drhwate 34 , 
eard begeaton. 

earls [men~] exceeding bold [keen], 
obtained (the) earth. 

[a territory or dwelling : " Eard: " not "eorthe."] 

hours. In old German poetry every thing 
translated from a foreign language was 
said to be taken from the Walsche 
(Welsh), and the Pays de Vaud is still 
called the Walliser-land. The following 
singular passage is taken from Hartmann 
von Awe's romance of Iwain (and Ga- 
wain,) where Welsch indisputably means 

Er was Hartman genant, 

and was ain Awere, 

der bracht disc mere 

zvi Tisch als ich han vernommen, 
. do er usz Engellandt was commen, 

da er vil zit was gewessen, 

hat ers an den Welschen buchen 

He was named Hartman, 
and was an Auwer, 
who brought this tale 
into German as I have heard, 
after he came out of England, 
where he had been a long time, 
(and where) he had read it in the 
Welsh books. 

84 The earls excelling in honour, T. 
most valiant earls, I. In Anglo-Saxon 
" hwate " and " cene " are synonymous, 
meaning both keen and bold. It is usual 
to consider "arhwate" and many other 
similar expressions as compounded of 
"are," honour; an error which has arisen 
from not sufficiently attending to the di- 
stinction between the substantive and the 
preposition "ar." In such combinations 
as " ar-wurthe," " ar-faest," " ar-hwate," 
"aer-god," the preposition is prefixed in 
the sense of excess, as in the comparative 
degree of adjectives it is subjoined. "Ar- 
wurthe," venerable, is from " ar-wurth- 
ian," to esteem greatly : and the follow- 
ing passage from Beowulf exhibits one of 
the combinations above cited, in a sense 
which cannot be mistaken. ' 

(a) scolde eorl wesan 
eer-god swylc jEschere waes. 
Ever should an earl 
be exceeding good as ^Escher was. 
1. 2657. 

The most simple and perhaps original 
idea attached to this preposition (of such 
extensive use in all the dialects of the 
North) was priority, from whence by an 
easy transition it came to mean priority 
in point of magnitude, and thence in point 
of excellence (honour). The analogous 
expressions prime good, prime strong, 
prime ripe, &c., may be heard in every 
province. The compounds " ar-full," pro- 

pitious, " ar-leas," impious, are formed 
from the substantive " ar," a word of very 
extensive signification, and which may be 
rendered goodness, kindness, benefit, care, 
favour, &c. 

Tha sprsec guth-cyning, 

Sodoma aklor, 

secgum gefylled, 

to Abrahame ; 

him wees ara thearf. 

Then spoke the war-king, 

prince of Sodom, 

whose warriors were felled, 

to Abraham ; 

to him was need of kindnesses. 

Caedmon 46, 2. 

It is impossible to translate " secgum 
gefylled" literally, without causing ob- 
scurity. [Mr. Thorpe reads " befylled," 
and renders it " of his warriors bereft," 
and " ara" he translates wealth, p. 12S.] 

./Ela frea beorhte, 

folces scyppend, 

gemilse thin mod, 

me to gode, 

sile thyne are, 

thyne earminge. 

O bright Lord, 

creator of (the) folk, 

soften thy mind, 

me to good, 

grant thy favour, 

thy commiseration, [to thy poor one.] 

Cotton Prayers, Jul. A. 2. 
[earming or yrming, from ' earm ' miser. 
To thy poor wretch.] 

Faegre acende 

beornum to frofre, 

eallum to are, 

ylda bearnum. 

Fair brought forth 

for bairns [chiefs] consolation, 

for the benefit of all 

sons of men. Jul. A. 2. 

Here too the dative cases plural cannot 
be translated. This term is of frequent 
occurrence in old English poetry, where 
the context having supplied the meaning, 
the glossographers had only to contend 
about the etymon. 

Lybeaus thurstede sore 

And sayde Maugys thyn ore, 

Lyd. Dis. v. 1337. 
The maister fel adoun on kne, and criede 

mercy and ore. R. Glouc. p. 9. 
Y aske mercy for Goddys ore. 

Erl of Tholous. v. 583. 
The meaning of " ore " when contrast- 



ed with the preceding extracts, will be too 
obvious to require any comment. The 
substitution of o for a was evidently the 
work of the Normans. The Anglo-Saxon 
a was pronounced like the Danish aa, the 

Swedish a, or our modern o in more, fore, 
&c. The strong intonation given to the 
words in which it occurred would strike 
a Norman ear as indicating the same or- 
thography that marked the long syllables 
of his native tongue, and he would ac- 
cordingly write them with an e final. It 
is from this cause that we find har, sar, 
hat, bat, wa, an, ban, stan, &c. written 

hore (hoar), sore, hote (hot), bote (boat), 
woe, one, bone, stone, some of which have 
been retained. The sane principle of 
elongation was extended to all the Anglo- 
Saxon vowels that were accentuated ; 
such as rec, reke (reek), lif, life, god, 
gode (good), scur, shure (shower) ; and 
hence the majority of those e's mute upon 
which Mr. Tyrwhitt has expended so 
much unfounded speculation. This sub- 
ject will be resumed in a supplementary 
volume, in an examination of that inge- 
nious critic's " Essay upon the Language 
and Versification of Chaucer." 

[The passage in Rask's Postscriptum referred to in some of the added notes (p. Ixx. 
&c.) is the following, and is given here as bearing testimony to the talents and learning 
of Mr. Price. R. T.] 

" Ne nuperrimus quidem Editor War- 
toni Hist. Poeseos Anglorum excipiendus 
videtur, etsi vir doctissimus, subsidiis 
egregiis ex Scandinavia nostra adjutus, 
multa sane contulit ad Poemata Anglo- 
Saxonica melius explicanda : v. c. in notis 
ad Poema de praelio Brunanburgensi (t. 
i p. 91.) 'dennade' vel, ut Gibson habet, 
* dynode ' recte per Isl. ' dundi ' expli- 
cavit, verbis usus Bjornonis Haldorsonii, 
in Lexico, ubi sub 1 . pers. ' eg dyn ' facile 
invenitur ; sed 'geaeftele ' (ib. p. 90.) haud 
invenit, itaque per ' ajjelo ' (i. e. sej>elo) 
nobilitas exposuit, quum tamen ' ae^elo ' 

gen. fern, sit, et a ' geseftele ' neut. gen. 
diversum ; scribitur enim hoc (ge, more 
Isl. abjecto) Islandis ' eftli,' et a Bjornone 
seque recte natura, indoles, genius. Sic 
'hond-rond' (Ib. p. 89.) per Angl. hand 
round exposuit, quum manuale scutum 
vertere debuisset ; ' rond ' scil. nihil est 
aliud quam Isl. ' rond ' (quemadmodum 
etiam ' hond,' Isl. 'hbnd' dicitur), quod 
apud eundem Bjbrnonem recte vertituv 
clypeus militaris, nee quicquam sane cum 
round Angl. commune habet." Rask's 
Anglo-Saxon Grammar, Mr. Thorpe's 
Edition, p. Iviii.] 

[Faege : p. Ixxi. note 8. 

Hickes has well explained the word " Faege" Thes. 114, where he instances "slege- 
faege," yet modern translators have been strangely at a loss with regard to it. In 
the same sense we have also " veich, veige," in the Heldenbuch and Nibelungen Lied ; 
" veegh, veygh," in Kilian ; " feigr," mox moribundus, in the Edda; " feigd," mortis 
vicinitas inopina, Biorn Haldorson, Gl. Isl. ; " vceie" in Layamon ; and " feegifeig " in 
the Frisic Glossary of Outzen, who says that Wachter is mistaken in supposing the word 
to be obsolete, as it is still in use in Friesland and Denmark. R. T.] 

[The following descriptions of battles will show how much the characteristics of the 
earlier Saxon poetry continued to prevail even till the reign of king John. It is 
from the Brut of Layamon, (supposed to be of that date,) the publication of which by 
the Society of Antiquaries, under the superintendence of Sir F. Madden, will be a ser- 
vice of the highest value to English philology. R.T. 

To-gadere heo tuhten, 

& lathliche fuhten : 

hardeliche heuwen, 

helmes ther gullen 

starcliche to-stopen 

mid steles egge. 

Alle dsei ther ilaeste 

fseht mid tham maeste, 

a thet that thustere niht 

to-daelde heore muchele fiht. 

Lseien a ba halue 

cnihtes to-heouwen. 1. 9794. 

Tha ferden heom imetten, 

fastliche on-slogen ; 

snelle heore kenpen, 

feollen tha veeie, 

rolden to grunde, 

ther wes muchel blod gute ; 

balu ther wes rive, 

brustlede scaeftes, 

beornes ther veollen. 1. 20073. 

VOL. I. 




THE irruption of the northern nations into the western empire, about 
the beginning of the fourth century, forms one of the most interesting 
and important periods of modern history. Europe, on this great event, 
suffered the most memorable revolutions in its government and manners ; 
and, from the most flourishing state of peace and civility, became on a 
sudden, and for the space of two centuries, the theatre of the most deplo- 
rable devastation and disorder. But among the disasters introduced by 
these irresistible barbarians, the most calamitous seems to have been the 
destruction of those arts which the Romans still continued so success- 
fully to cultivate in their capital, and which they had universally com- 
municated to their conquered provinces. Towards the close of the fifth 
century, very few traces of the Roman policy, jurisprudence, sciences, 
and literature remained. Some faint sparks of knowledge were kept 
alive in the monasteries ; and letters and the liberal arts were happily 
preserved from a total extinction during the confusions of the Gothic in- 
vaders, by that slender degree of culture and protection which they re- 
ceived from the prelates of the church and the religious communities. 
But notwithstanding the famous academy of Rome a with other lite- 

* Theodosius the younger, in the year dred feet long, made of a dragon's gut 
425, founded an academy at Constant!- or intestine, on which Homer's Iliad and 
nople, which he furnished with able pro- Odyssey were written in golden letters, 
fessors of every science, intending it as See Bibl. Histor. Literar. Select. &c. 
a rival institution to that at Rome. Gia- lenae, 1754. p. 164. seq. Literature 
non. Hist. Napl. ii. ch. vi. sect. 1. A flourished in the eastern empire, while 
noble library had been established at the western was depopulated by the 
Constantinople by Constantius and Va- Goths ; and for many centuries after- 
lens before the year 380, the custody of wards. The Turks destroyed one hun- 
which was committed to four Greek and dred and twenty thousand volumes, I 
three Latin antiquaries or curators. It suppose in the imperial library, when 
contained sixty thousand volumes. Zo- they sacked Constantinople in the year 
naras relates, that among other treasures 1454. HOD. De Grsec. Illustr. ii. 1. p. 
in thu library, there was a roll one him- 192. 


rary seminaries had been destroyed by Alaric in the fourth century, yet 
Theodoric the second, king of the Ostrogoths, a pious and humane prince, 
restored in some degree the study of letters in that city, and encouraged 
the pursuits of those scholars who survived this great and general deso- 
lation of learning b . He adopted into his service Boethius, the most 
learned and almost only Latin philosopher of that period. Cassiodorus, 
another eminent Roman scholar, was Theodoric's grand secretary ; who 
retiring into a monastery in Calabria passed his old age in collecting 
books, and practising mechanical experiments . He was the author of 
many valuable pieces which still remain d . He wrote with little ele- 
gance, but he was the first that ever digested a series of royal charts or 
instruments ; a monument of singular utility to the historian, and which 
has served to throw the most authentic illustration on the public trans- 
actions and legal constitutions of those times. Theodoric's patronage 
of learning is applauded by Claudian and Sidonius Apollinaris. Many 
other Gothic kings were equally attached to the works of peace ; and 
are not less conspicuous for their justice, prudence, and temperance, than 
for their fortitude and magnanimity. Some of them were diligent in 
collecting the scattered remains of the Roman institutes, and construct- 
ing a regular code of jurisprudence 6 . It is highly probable, that those 
Goths who became masters of Rome sooner acquired ideas of civility, 
from the opportunity which that city above all others afforded them of 
seeing the felicities of polished life, of observing the conveniences arising 
from political economy, of mixing with characters respectable for pru- 
dence and learning, and of employing in their counsels men of superior 
wisdom, whose instruction and advice they found it their interest to fol- 
low. But perhaps these northern adventurers, at least their princes and 
leaders, were not, even at their first migrations into the south, so totally 
savage and uncivilised as we are commonly apt to suppose. Their ene- 
mies have been their historians, who naturally painted these violent dis- 
' turbers of the general repose in the warmest colours. It is not easy to 
conceive, that the success of their amazing enterprises was merely the 
effect of numbers and tumultuary depredation ; nor can I be persuaded, 
that the lasting and flourishing governments which they established in 
various parts of Europe, could have been framed by brutal force alone, 
and the blind efforts of unreflecting savages. Superior strength and 
courage must have contributed in a considerable degree to their rapid 
and extensive conquests ; but at the same time, such mighty achieve- 
ments could not have been planned and executed without some extraor- 
dinary vigour of mind, uniform principles of conduct, and no common 
talents of political sagacity. 

Although these commotions must have been particularly unfavorable 

b He died A.D. 526. See Cassiodor. c Func. ut supr.xiii. p. 471. xi. p. 595. 

Rpist. lib. i. 39. See also Func. de d Cave, Saecul. Eutych. Hist. Lit. 

inerti et decrep. Latin. Linguae Senectut. p. 391. 

cap. ii. p. 81. e Gianon. Hist. Nap. iii. c. 1. 


to the more elegant literature, yet Latin poetry, from a concurrence of 
causes, had for some time begun to relapse into barbarism. From the 
growing increase of Christianity, it was deprived of its old fabulous em- 
bellishments, and chiefly employed in composing ecclesiastical hymns- 
Amid these impediments however, and the necessary degeneration of 
taste and style, a few poets supported the character of the Roman muse 
with tolerable dignity during the decline of the Roman empire. These 
were Ausonius, Paulinus, Sidonius, Sedulius, Arator, Juvencus, Prosper, 
and Fortunatus. With the last, who flourished at the beginning of the 
sixth century, and was bishop of Poitiers, the Roman poetry is supposed 
to have expired. 

In the sixth century Europe began to recover some degree of tran- 
quillity. Many barbarous countries during this period, particularly the 
inhabitants of Germany, of Friesland, and other northern nations, were 
converted to the Christian faith f . The religious controversies which at 
this time divided the Greek^and Latin churches, roused the minds of 
men to literary inquiries. These disputes in some measure called forth 
abilities which otherwise would have been unknown and unemployed : 
and together with the subtleties of argumentation, insensibly taught the 
graces of style, and the habits of composition. Many of the popes were 
persons of distinguished talents, and promoted useful knowledge no less 
by example than authority. Political union was by degrees established ; 
and regular systems of government, which alone can ensure personal se- 
curity, arose in the various provinces of Europe occupied by the Gothic 
tribes. The Saxons had taken possession of Britain, the Franks became 
masters of Gaul, the Huns of Pannonia, the Goths of Spain, and the 
Lombards of Italy. Hence leisure and repose diffused a mildness of 
manners, and introduced the arts of peace ; and, awakening the human 
mind to a consciousness of its powers, directed its faculties to their pro- 
per objects. 

In the mean time, no small obstruction to the propagation or rather 
revival of letters was the paucity of valuable books. The libraries, par- 
ticularly those of Italy, which abounded in numerous and inestimable 
treasures of literature, were every where destroyed by the precipitate 
rage and undistinguishing violence of the northern armies. Towards 
the close of the seventh century, even in the papal library at Rome, 
the number of books was so inconsiderable, that pope Saint Martin re- 
quested Sanctamand bishop of Maestricht, if possible, to supply this 
defect from the remotest parts of Germany &. In the year 855, Lupus, 
abbot of Ferrieres in France, sent two of his monks to pope Benedict 
the third, to beg a copy of CICERO DE ORATORE, and QUINTILIAN'S 
INSTITUTES 11 , and some other books : " for," says the abbot, " although 

f Cave. Saecul. Monoth. p. 440. Quintilian's Institutes, as we shall see be- 

B Concil. Tom. xv. pag. 285. edit. Paris, low; and he appears to have been a fa- 

641. vourite author with some writers of the 

h There are very early manuscripts of middle ages. He is quoted by John of 


we have part of these books, yet there is no whole or complete copy of 
them in all France 1 ." Albert abbot of Gemblours, who with incredible 
labour and immense expense had collected a hundred volumes on the- 
ological and fifty on profane subjects, imagined he had formed a splen- 
did library k . About the year 790, Charlemagne granted an unlimited 
right * of hunting to the abbot and monks of Sithiu, for making their 
gloves and girdles of the skins of the deer they killed, and covers for 
their books l . We may imagine that these religious were more fond of 
hunting than reading f. It is certain that they were obliged to hunt 

Salisbury, a writer of the eleventh cen- 
tury, Polycrat. vii. 14. iii. 7. x. 1. &c. ; 
and by Vincent of Beauvais, a writer of 
the thirteenth, Specul. Hist. x. 1 1. ix. 125. 
His declamations are said to have been 
abridged by our countryman Adelardus 
Bathoniensis, and dedicated to the bishop 
of Bayeux, about the year 1130. See 
Catal. Bibl. Leidens. p". 381. A.D. 1716. 
Poggius Florentinus, an eminent restorer 
of classical literature, says, that in the 
year 1446, he found a much more correct 
copy of Quintilian's Institutes than had 
been yet seen in Italy, almost perishing, 
at the bottom of a dark neglected tower 
of the monastery of Saint Gall, in France, 
together with the three first books and 
half the fourth of Valerius Flaccus's Ar- 
gonautics, and Asconius Pedianus's com- 
ment on eight orations of Tully. See 
Poggii Opp. p. 309. Atns*. 1720. 8vo. 
The very copy of Quintilian found by 
Poggius is said to have been in lord Sun- 
derland's noble library now at Blenheim. 
Poggius, in his dialogue De Infelicitate 
Principum, says of himself, that he tra- 
velled all over Germany in search of books. 
It is certain that by his means Quintilian, 
Tertullian, Asconius Pedianus, Lucretius, 
Sallust, Silius Italicus, Columella, Mani- 
lius, Tully's Orations, Ammianus Mar- 
cell inus, Valerius Flaccus, and some of 
the Latin grammarians, and other ancient 
authors, were recovered from oblivion and 
brought into general notice by being print- 
ed in the fifteenth century. Fr. Babarus 
Venetus, Collaudat. ad Pogg. dat. Venet. 
1417. 7 Jul. See .also Giornale de Lette- 
ratid 'Italia, torn. ix. p. 178. x. p. 41 7 ; and 
Leonard. Aretin. Epist. lib. iv. p. 160. 
Chaucer mentions the Argonautjcs of Va- 
lerius Flaccus, as I have observed Sect, 
iii. p. 129. infr. Colomesius affirms that 
Silius Italicus is one of the classics disco- 
vered by Poggius in the tower of the mo- 
nastery of Saint Gall. Ad Gyrald. de Poet. 
Dial. iv. p, 240. But Philippo Rosso, in his 
Rittrato di Roma antica, mentions a very 
ancient manuscript of this poet brought 
from Spain into the Vatican, having a pic- 

ture of Hannibal, il quale hoggi si ritrova 
nella preditta libraria, p. 83. 

[From the following passage in one of 
Poggius's letters to Niccolo Niccoli, it ap- 
pears that he had also travelled into Eng- 
land for the same purpose : " Mittas ad 
me oro Bucolicam Calphurnii et portiuncu- 
lam Petronii quas misi tibi ex Britannia." 
See Ambr. Traversari Lat. Epist. &c. i. 
Praef. p. 49. It is probable, that upon this 
occasion he met with the copy of Quinti- 
lian above mentioned. DOUCE.] 

1 Murator. Antiq. Ital. iii. p. 835 ; and 
Lup. Ep. ad Baron, ad an. 856. n. 8, 9, 10. 
k Fleury, Hist. Eccl. 1. IviiL c. 52. 
* [This permission was not granted un- 
til after much entreaty on the part of the 
monks, and an assurance that the flesh of 
the deer would be the means of re-esta- 
blishing the health of their sick brethren, 
as well as for the other reasons above men- 
tioned. That monks were addicted to the 
pleasures of the chase, appears from Chau- 
cer's description of the monk in his Can- 
terbury Tales. DOUCE.] 

1 Mabillon, De Re Dipl. p. 6 11. 
f [Hunting appears to have been ex- 
pressly forbidden the religious of all deno- 
minations, as a profane amusement alto- 
gether incompatible with their profession. 
They obtained, however, this indulgence 
under certain restrictions, particularly set 
forth in their charters. It was a privilege 
allowed even to nuns. See more on this 
subject in M. le Grand's Vie privee des 
Franqais, torn. i. p. 323. By the laws of 
Eadgar, priests were prohibited from hunt- 
ing, hawking, and drinking: " Docemus 
etiam ut sacerdos non sit venator, neque 
accipitrarius, neque potator. Sed incum- 
fcat libris suis sicut ordinem ipsius decet." 
Wilkins's Leges Anglo-Saxon, p. 86. 

[The Latin version which is here fol- 
lowed, is as usual inaccurate. The ori- 
ginal text forbids a less disgraceful indul- 
gence than "compotation," and contains a 
ludicrous play of words, hardly admissible 
in our present legal enactments : " ne tae- 
flere, ac plegge on his bocum swa his hada 


before they could read : and at least it is probable, that under these 
circumstances, and of such materials, they did not manufacture many 
volumes. At the beginning of the tenth century books were so scarce 
in Spain, that one and the same copy of the Bible, Saint Jerom's Epi- 
stles, and some volumes of ecclesiastical offices and martyrologies, often 
served several different monasteries" 1 . Among the constitutions given 
to the monks of England by archbishop Lan franc, in the year 1072, 
the following injunction occurs. At the beginning of Lent, the libra- 
rian is ordered to deliver a book to each of the religious : a whole year 
was allowed for the perusal of this book ; and at the returning Lent, 
those monks who had neglected to read the books they had respectively 
received, are commanded to prostrate themselves before the abbot, and 
to supplicate his indulgence". This regulation was partly occasioned 
by the low state of literature which Lanfranc found in the English 
monasteries ; but at the same time it was a matter of necessity, and is 
in great measure to be referred to the scarcity of copies of useful and 
suitable authors. In an inventory of the goods of John de Pontissara, 
bishop of Winchester, contained in his capital palace of Wulvesey, all 
the books which appear are nothing more than " Septendecem pecie li- 
brorum de diversis Scienciis " This was in the year 1294. The same 
prelate, in the year 1299, borrows of his cathedral convent of St. Swi- 
thin at Winchester, BIBLIAM BENE GLOSSATAM, that is, the Bible, with 
marginal Annotations, in two large folio volumes ; but gives a bond 
for due return of the loan, drawn up with great solemnity P. This Bible 
had been bequeathed to the convent the same year by Pontissara's 
predecessor, bishop Nicholas de Ely : and in consideration of so im- 
portant a bequest, that is, " pro bona Biblia dicti episcopi bene glosaia" 

gebirath:"i.e. nor tabler (player at tables), dei gracia Wynton. episcopus, salutem in 

but let him play in his books as becomes domino. Noveritis nos ex commodato re- 

his order (hood). PRICE.] cepisse a dilectis filiis nostris Priore et con- 

[Price does not exhibit his usual accu- ventu ecclesie nostre Wynton. unam Bibli- 
racy in his version of Edgar's law. ' Plegge am, in duobus voluminibus bene glosatam, 
pn his bocum' does not mean play in his que aliquando fuit bone memorie domini 
books, but ply his books ; nor does ' hade ' Nicolai Wynton. episcopi, predecessoris 
signify hood, but quality, condition, per- nostri, termino perpetuo, seu quamdiu no- 
son. R. G.] bis placuerit, inspiciendam, tenendam, et 

m Fleury, ubi supr. 1. liv. c. 54. See habendam. Ad cujus Restitutionem eis- 

other instances in Hist. Lit. Fr. par Rel. dem fideliter et sine dolo faciendam, obli- 

Benedict. vii. 3. gamus nos per presentes : quam si in vita 

n " Unusquisque reddat librum qui ad nostra non restituerimus eisdem, obliga- 

legendum sibi alio anno fuerat commen- mus executores nostros, et omnia bona 

datus : et qui cognoverat se non legisse nostra mobilia et immobilia, ecclesiastica 

librum, quern recepit, prostratus culpam et mundana, cohercioni et districtioni cu- 

dicat, et indulgentiam petat. Iterum li- juscunque judicis ecclesiastici et secularis 

brorum custos unicuique fratrum alimn quern predictus Prior etconventus duxerit 

librum tribuat ad legendum." Wilkins. eligendum, quod possint eosdem execu- 

Concil. i. 332. See also the order of the tores per omnimodam districtionem com- 

Provincial chapter, De occupatione mona- pellere, quousque dicta Biblia dictis filiis et 

chorum. Reyner, Append, p. 129. fratribus sit restituta. In cujus rei testi- 

Registr. Pontissar. f. 126. MS. monium, sigillum, &c. Dat.apud Wulve- 

" Omnibus Christi fidelibus presentes seye, vi. Kal. Mail, anno 1299." Registr. 

literas visuris vel inspecturis, Johannes Pontissar. ut supr. f. 193. 


and one hundred marks in money, the monks founded a daily mass for 
the soul of the donor 1. When a single book was bequeathed to a 
friend or relation, it was seldom without many restrictions and stipu- 
lations 1 ". If any person gave a book to a religious house, he believed 
that so valuable a donation merited eternal salvation, and he offered it 
on the altar with great ceremony. The most formidable anathemas 
were peremptorily denounced against those who should dare to alienate 
a book presented to the cloister or library of a religious house. The 
prior and convent of Rochester declare, that they will every year pro- 
nounce the irrevocable sentence of damnation on him who shall pur- 
loin or conceal a Latin translation of Aristotle's PHYSICS, or even ob- 
literate the title 8 . Sometimes a book was given to a monastery on 
condition that the donor should have the use of it during his life ; and 
sometimes to a private person, with the reservation that he who re- 
ceives it should pray for the soul of his benefactor*. The gift of a 
book to Lincoln cathedral, by bishop Repingdon, in the year 1422, 
occurs in this form and under these curious circumstances. The me- 
morial is written in Latin, with the bishop's own hand, which I will 
give in English, at the beginning of Peter's BREVIARY OF THE BIBLE. 
" I Philip of Repyndon, late bishop of Lincoln, give this book called 
Peter de Aureolis to the new library to be built within the church of 
Lincoln ; reserving the use and possession of it to Richard Fryesby, 
clerk, canon and prebendary of Miltoun, in fee, and to the term of his 
life ; and afterwards to be given up and restored to the said library, or 
the keepers of the same, for the time being, faithfully and without de- 
lay. Written with my own hand, A.D. 1422V When a book was 
bought, the affair was of so much importance, that it was customary to 
assemble persons of consequence and character, and to make a formal 
record that they were present on this occasion. Among the royal ma- 
nuscripts, in the book of the SENTENCES of Peter Lombard, an arch- 
deacon of Lincoln has left this en try u . " This book of the SENTENCES 
belongs to master Roger, archdeacon of Lincoln, which he bought of 
Geoffrey the chaplain, brother of Henry vicar of Northelkington, in 
the presence of master Robert de Lee, master John of Lirling, Richard 

* Ibid. f. 19. Mill.' cccclx. and the yere of kynge Hen- 

* As thus : " Do Henrico Morie scolari ry the Sixte after the conquest xxxix. 
meo, si contingat eum presbyterari : aliter And the said John Burton bequethe to 
erit liber domini Johannis Sory, sic quod dame Kateryne Burton his doubter, a 
non vendatur, sed transeat inter cognates boke callyd Legenda scor'. the seyde 
meos, si fuerint aliqui inventi : sin autem, Kateryne to have hit and to occupye to 
ab uno presbytero ad alium." Written at hir owne use and at hir owne liberte du- 
the end of Latin Homelies on the Canticles, rynge hur lyfe, and after hur decesse to 
MSS. Reg. 5. C. iii. 24. Brit. Mus. remayne to the prioresse and the covent 

8 MSS. Reg. 12 G. ii. of Halywelle for ev~more, they to pray for 

* [At the end of a MS. of the Golden the saide John Burton and Johne his wife 
Legend in Mr. Douce's possession is the and alle crystene soyles. And who that 
following bequest : " Be hit remembryd lettithe the execucion of this bequest he 
that John Burton citizen and mercer of the lawe standeth." PARK.] 

London, past oute of this .lyfe the xx l MSS. Reg. 8 G. fol. iii. Brit. Mu. 

day of Novemb" the yere of oure Lorde It is in Latin. 


of Luda, clerk, Richard the almoner, the said Henry the vicar and his 
clerk, and others : and the said archdeacon gave the said book to God 
and saint Oswald, and to Peter abbot of Barton, and the convent of 
Barden* w ." The disputed property of a book often occasioned the 
most violent altercations. Many claims appear to have been made to a 
manuscript of Matthew Paris belonging to the last-mentioned library ; 
in which John Russell, bishop of Lincoln, thus conditionally defends or 
explains his right of possession. " If this book can be proved to be or 
to have been the property of the exempt monastery of Saint Alban in 
the diocese of Lincoln, I declare this to be my mind, that, in that case, 
I use it at present as a loan under favour of those monks who belong 
to the said monastery. Otherwise, according to the condition under 
which this book came into my possession, I will that it shall belong to 
the college of the blessed Winchester Mary at Oxford, of the founda- 
tion of William Wykham. Written with my own hand at Bukdene, 
1 Jun. A.D. 1488. Jo. LINCOLN. Whoever shall obliterate or destroy 
this writing, let him be anathema x ." About the year 1225, Roger de 
Insula, dean of York, gave several Latin bibles to the university of Ox- 
ford, with a condition that the students who perused them should de- 
posit a cautionary pledge?. The library of that university, before the 
year 1300, consisted only of a few tracts, chained or kept in chests in 
the choir of St. Mary's church 2 . In the year 1327, the scholars and 
citizens of Oxford assaulted and entirely pillaged the opulent Benedic- 
tine abbey of the neighbouring town of Abingdon. Among the books 
they found there, were one hundred psalters, as many grayles, and forty 
missals, which undoubtedly belonged to the choir of the church : but 
besides these, there were only twenty-two CODICES, which I interpret 
books on common subjects 8 . And although the invention of paper, at 

* [Correct thus : " Peter de Barton ab- Psalter cum glossa, "A.D. 1326, Iste Li- 
bot, and the convent of Bardeney." M.] her impignoratur Mag. Jacobo de Ispania 

w 9 B. ix. 1. canonicoS.Pauli London, per fratremWil- 

* Written in Latin. Cod. MSS. Reg. 14 C. lielmum de Rokesle de ordine et conventu 
vii. 2. fol. In this manuscript is written Praedicatorum Londonie, pro xx s. quern 
by Matthew Paris in his own hand, Hunc idem frater Willielmus recepit mutuo de 
Librum dedit frater Matthaeus Parisieji~ predicto Jacobo ad opus predicti conventus, 
sis Perhaps, Deo et ecclesiee S. Albani, solvendos in quindena S. Michaelis prox- 
since erased. ime ventura. Condonatur quia pauper." 

y Wood, Hist. Antiq. Univ. Oxon. ii. 48. Ibid. 3 E. vii. fol. In Bernard's Homelies 

col. 1. It was common to lend money on on the Canticles, "Cautio Thome Myllyng 

the deposit of a book. There were pub- imposita ciste de Rodbury, 10 die Decemb. 

lie chests in the universities, and perhaps A.D. 1491. Et jacet pro xx*." Ibid. 6 C. 

some other places, for receiving the books ix. These pledges, among other parti- 

so deposited; many of which still remain, culars, show the prices of books in the 

with an insertion in the blank pages, con- middle ages, a topic which I shall touch 

taining the conditions of the pledge. I upon below. 

will throw together a few instances in this [There are many similar instances re- 
note. In Peter Comestor's Scholastical corded in Raine's Catalogue of the MSS. in 
History, " Cautio Thomae Wybaurn ex- the Cathedral library at Durham. M.] 
cepta in Cista de Chichele, A.D. 1468, z Registr. Univ. Oxon. C. 64 a. 
20 die mens. Augusti. Et est liber M. * Wood, Hist, ut supr. i. 163. col. 1. 
Petri, &c. Et jacet pro xxvis. viiid." Leland mentions this library, but it is just 
Mus. Brit. MSS, Reg. 2 C. fol. i. In a before the dissolution of the monastery. 


the close of the eleventh century, contributed to multiply manuscripts, 
and consequently to facilitate knowledge, yet even so late as the reign 
of our Henry the Sixth, I have discovered the following remarkable in- 
stance of the inconveniences and impediments to study which must 
have been produced by a scarcity of books. It is in the statutes of 
St. Mary's college at Oxford, founded as a seminary to Oseney abbey 
in the year ] 4-46. " Let no scholar occupy a book in the library above 
one hour, or two hours at most ; so that others shall be hindered from 
the use of the sameV The famous library established in the univer- 
sity of Oxford by that munificent patron of literature Humphrey duke 
of Gloucester contained only six hundred volumes . About the com- 
mencement of the fourteenth century, there were only four classics in 
the royal library at Paris. These were one copy of Cicero, Ovid, Lu- 
can, and Boethius. The rest were chiefly books of devotion, which 
included but few of the fathers ; many treatises of astrology, geomancy, 
chiromancy, and medicine, originally written in Arabic, and translated 
into Latin or French ; pandects, chronicles, and romances. This col- 
lection was principally made by Charles the Fifth, who began his reign 
in 1365. This monarch was passionately fond of reading, and it was 
the fashion to send him presents of books from every part of the king- 
dom of France. These he ordered to be elegantly transcribed, and 
richly illuminated ; and he placed them in a tower of the Louvre, from 
thence called la toure de la libraire. The whole consisted of nine hun- 
dred volumes. They were deposited in three chambers; which, on 

"Cum excuterem pulverem et blattas Ab- brarian to Henry the Eighth, removed a 

bandunensis bibliothecae : " Script. Brit. large quantity of valuable manuscripts 

p. 238. See also J. Twyne, Comm. de from St. Austin's Canterbury and from 

Reb. Albionic. lib. ii. p. 130. edit. Lond. other monasteries at the dissolution, to 

1590. I have mentioned the libraries of that king's library at Westminster. See 

many monasteries below. See also what Script. Brit. ETHELSTANUS; and MSS. 

is said of the libraries of the Mendicant Reg. 1 A. xviii. For the sake of connec- 

Friars, Sect. ix. vol.ii. p. 89. That of Grey tion I will observe, that among our cathe- 

Friars in London was filled with books at dral libraries of secular canons, that of the 

the cost of five hundred and fifty-six pounds church of Wells was most magnificent: it 

in the year 1432. Leland, Coll. i. 109. In was built about the year 1420, and con- 

the year 1482, the library of the abbey tained twenty-five windows on either side, 

of Leicester contained eight large stalls Leland, Coll. i. p. 109, in which state, I 

which were filled with books. Gul. Cha- believe, it continues at present. Nor is it 

ryte, Registr. Libror. et Jocal. omnium in quite foreign to the subject of this note to. 

monast. S. Mar. de pratis prope Leces- add, that king Henry the Sixth intended a 

triam. MSS. Bibl. Bodl. Laud. I. 75. fol. library at Eton college, fifty-two feet long, 

membr. See f. 139. There is an account and twenty-four broad; and another at 

of the library of Dover priory, [compiled King's college in Cambridge of the same 

in 1389. M.] MSS. Bibl. Bodl. Arch. B. breadth, but one hundred and two feet in 

24. Leland says, that the library of Nor- length. Ex Testam. dat. xii. Mar. 1447. 
wich priory was " bonis refertissima li- b " Nullus occupet unum librum, vel 

bris." Script. Brit. p. 247. See also Le- occupari facial, ultra unam horam et duas 

land's account of St. Austin's library at ad majus : sic quod cseteri retrahantur a 

Canterbury, ibid. p. 299. Concerning visu et studio ejusdem." Statut. Coll. S. 

which, compare Liber Thomcc Sprotti de Mariae pro Oseney. De Libraria. f. 21. 

libraria S. Augustini Cantuari<z, MSS. MSS. Rawlins. Bibl. Bodl. Oxon. 
C. C. C. Oxon. 125. ; and Bibl. Cotton. c Wood, ubi supr. ii. 49. col. ii. It was 

Brit. Mus. Jul. C. vi. 4.; and Leland, not opened till the year 1480. Ibid. p.50. 

Coll. iii. 10. 120. Leland, who was li- col. i. 


this occasion, were wainscoted with Irish oak, and ceiled with cypress 
curiously carved. The windows were of painted glass, fenced with 
iron bars and copper wire. The English became masters of Paris in the 
year 1425; on which event the duke of Bedford, regent of France, sent 
his whole library, then consisting of only eight hundred and fifty-three 
volumes, and valued at two thousand two hundred and twenty-three 
livres, into England ; where perhaps they became the ground-work of 
duke Humphrey's library just mentioned d . Even so late as the year 
1471, when Louis the Eleventh of France borrowed the works of the 
Arabian physician Rhasis, from the faculty of medicine at Paris, he not 
only deposited by way of pledge a quantity of valuable plate, but was 
obliged to procure a nobleman to join with him as surety in a deed 6 , 
by which he bound himself to return it under a considerable forfeiture f . 
The excessive prices of books in the middle ages afford numerous and 
curious proofs. I will mention a few only. In the year 1 1 74, Walter 
prior of St. Swithin's at Winchester, afterwards elected abbot of West- 
minster, a writer in Latin of the lives of the bishops who were his pa- 
trons s, purchased of the canons of Dorchester in Oxfordshire, Bede's 
Homilies and Saint Austin's Psalter, for twelve measures of barley, and 
a pall on which was embroidered in silver the history of Saint Birinus 
converting a Saxon king h . Among the royal manuscripts in the Bri- 
tish Museum there is COMESTOR'S SCHOLASTIC HISTORY in French ; 
which, as it is recorded in a blank page at the beginning, was taken 
from the king of France at the battle of Poitiers ; and being purchased 
by William Montague earl of Salisbury for one hundred mars, was 
ordered to be sold by the last will of his countess Elizabeth for forty 
livres 1 . About the year 1400, a copy of John of Meun's ROMAN DE 

A See M. Boivin, Mem. Lit. ii. p. 747. cathedral, on the windows of the abbey- 
4to. ; who says, that the regent presented church of Dorchester near Oxford, and 
to his brother-in-law Humphrey duke of in the western front and windows of Lin- 
Gloucester a rich copy of a translation of coin cathedral; with all which churches 
Livy into French, which had been pre- Birinus was connected. He was buried in 
sented to the king of France. that of Dorchester, Whart. Angl. Sacr. i. 

e See [Richard of] Bury's PhiloUUon, 190: and in Bever's manuscript Chronicle, 

mentioned at large below. De modo com- or his Continuator, cited below, it is said, 

municandi studentibus libros nostros. cap. that a marble cenotaph of marvellous 

xix. sculpture was constructed over his grave 

1 Robertson's Hist. Charles V. vol. i. in Dorchester church about the year 1320. 

p. 281. edit. 8vo. I find no mention of this monument in any 

8 William Giffard and Henry de Blois, other writer. Bever. Chron. MSS. Coll. 

bishops of Winchester. Trin. Oxon. Num. x. f. 66. 

h Registr. Priorat. S. Swithin. Winton. * MSS. 19 D. ii. La Bible Hystoriaus, 

ut supr. MS. quatern. . . " Pro duodecim ou Les Histories escolastres. The tran- 

mens. (or mod.) ordei, et una palla brus- script is of the fourteenth century. This 

data in argento cum historia sancti Birini is the entry : " Cest livre fust pris oue le 

convertentis ad fidem Kynegylsum regem roy de France a la bataille de Peyters: et 

GewyseorumjnecnonOswaldiregis North- le bon counte de Saresbirs William Mon- 

umbranorum suscipientis de fonte Kyne- tagu la achata pur cent mars, et le dona a 

gylsum." Gewyseorum is the West Sax- sa compaigne Elizabeth la bone countesse, 

ons. This history, with others of Saint que dieux assoile. Le quele lyvre le dite 

Birinus, is represented on the ancient font countesse assigna a ses executours de le 

of Norman workmanship in Winchester rendre pur xl. livres." 



LA ROSE was sold before the palace-gate at Paris for forty crowns or 
thirty-three pounds six and six-penceJ. But in pursuit of these anec- 
dotes, I am imperceptibly seduced into later periods, or rather am de- 
viating from my subject. 

After the calamities which the state of literature sustained in con- 
sequence of the incursions of the northern nations, the first restorers 
of the ancient philosophical sciences in Europe, the study of which, by 
opening the faculties and extending the views of mankind, gradually 
led the way to other parts of learning, were the Arabians. In the 
beginning of the eighth century, this wonderful people, equally famous 
for their conquests and their love of letters, in ravaging the Asiatic 
provinces found many Greek books, which they read with infinite 
avidity : and such was the gratification they received from this fortu- 
nate acquisition, and so powerfully their curiosity was excited to make 
further discoveries in this new field of knowledge, that they requested 
their caliphs to procure from the emperor at Constantinople the best 
Greek writers. These they carefully translated into Arabic k . But 
every part of the Grecian literature did not equally gratify their taste. 
The Greek poetry they rejected, because it inculcated polytheism and 
idolatry, which were inconsistent with their religion : or perhaps it 
was too cold and too correct for their extravagant and romantic con- 
ceptions '. Of the Greek history they made no use, because it recorded 

J It belonged to the late Mr. Ames, au- 
thor of the Typographical Antiquities. In 
a blank leaf was written, " Cest lyvir cost 
a palas du Parys quarante corones d' or 
sans mentyr." I have observed in an- 
other place, that in the year 1430, Nicho- 
las de Lyra was transcribed at the expense 
of one hundred marcs. Sect. ix. vol. ii. 
p. 90. 1 add here the valuation of books 
bequeathed to Merton college at Oxford, 
before the year 1300. A Scholastical Hi- 
story, 20s. A Concordantia, 10s. The 
four greater Prophets, with glosses, 5s. 
Liber Anselmi cum quaestionibus Thomae 
de Malo, 12s. Quodlibetae H. Ganda- 
vensis et S. Thomae Aquinatis, 10s. A 
Psalter with glosses, 10s. Saint Austin 
on Genesis, 10s. MS. Hist, of Merton 
College, by A. Wood. Bibl. Bodl. Cod. 
Rawlins. I could add a variety of other 
instances. The curious reader who seeks 
further information on this small yet not 
unentertaining branch of literary history, 
is referred to Gabr. Naud. Addit. a 1' Hist, 
de Louys XI. par Comines. edit. Fresn. 
torn. iv. 281, &c. 

k See Abulfarag. per Pocock, Dynast, 
p. 160. Greek was a familiar language 
to the Arabians. The accounts of the 
caliph's treasury were always written in 
Greek till the year of Christ 715. They 
were then ordered to be drawn in Arabic. 

Many proofs of this might be mentioned. 
Greek was a familiar language in Ma- 
homet's household. Zaid, one of Ma- 
homet's secretaries, to whom he dictated 
the Koran, was a perfect master of 
Greek. Sale's Prelim. Disc. p. 144, 145. 
The Arabic gold coins were always in- 
scribed with Greek legends till about the 
year 700. 

1 Yet it appears from many of their 
fictions, that some of the Greek poets were 
not unfamiliar among them, perhaps long 
before the period assigned in the text. 
Theophilus Edessenus, a Maronite, by 
profession an astronomer, translated Ho- 
mer into Syriac about the year 770. Theo- 
phan. Chronogr. p. 376. Abulfarag. ut 
supr. p. 217. Reinesius, in his very cu- 
rious account of the manuscript collection 
of Greek chemists in the library of Saxe- 
Gotha, relates that soon after the year 
750, the Arabians translated Homer and 
Pindar amongst other Greek books. 
Ernest. Salom. Cyprian. Catal. Codd. 
MSS. Bibl. Gothan. pp. 71. 87. Apud 
Fabric. Bibl. Gr. xii. p. 753. It is how- 
ever certain, that the Greek philoso- 
phers were their objects. Compare Eu- 
seb. Renaudot de Barb. Aristotel. Ver- 
sionib. apud Fabric. Bibl. Gr. xii. pp. 252. 



events which preceded their prophet Mahomet. Accustomed to a de- 
spotic empire, they neglected the political systems of the Greeks, which 
taught republican freedom. For the same reasons they despised the 
eloquence of the Athenian orators. The Greek ethics were superseded 
by their Alcoran, and on this account they did not study the works of 
Plato m . Therefore no other Greek books engaged their attention but 
those which treated of mathematical, metaphysical, and physical know- 
ledge. Mathematics coincided with their natural turn to astronomy 
and arithmetic. Metaphysics, or logic, suited their speculative genius, 
their love of tracing intricate and abstracted truths, and their ambition 
of being admired for difficult and remote researches. Physics, in which 
I include medicine, assisted the chemical experiments to which they 
were so much addicted"; and medicine, while it was connected with 
chemistry and botany, was a practical art of immediate utility . Hence 
they studied Aristotle, Galen, and Hippocrates with unremitted ardour 
and assiduity : they translated their writings into the Arabic tongue p , 
and by degrees illustrated them with voluminous commentaries 1. These 

m Yet Reinesius says, that about the 
year 750 they translated Plato into Ara- 
bic, together with the works of St. Austin, 
Ambrose, Jerom, Leo, and Gregory the 
Great. Ubi supr. p. 260. Leo Africanus 
mentions among the works of Averroes, 
Expositiones Reipublicee Platonis. But 
he died so late as the year 1206. De Med. 
et Philosoph. Arab. cap. xx. 

n The earliest Arab chemist, whose 
writings are now extant, was Jeber. He 
is about the seventh century. His book, 
called by Golius, his Latin translator, 
Lapis Philosophorum, was written first in 
Greek, and afterwards translated by its 
author into Arabic : for Jeber was ori- 
ginally a Greek and a Christian, and af- 
terwards went into Asia, and embraced 
Mahometism. See Leo African, lib. iii. 
c. 106. The learned Boerhaave asserts, 
that many of Jeber's experiments are 
verified by present practice, and that se- 
veral of them have been revived as mo- 
dern discoveries. Boerhaave adds, that 
except the fancies about the philosopher's 
stone, the exactness of Jeber's operations 
is surprising. Hist. Chemistr. pp. 14, 15. 
Lond. 1727. 

Their learning, but especially their 
medical knowledge, flourished most in 
Salerno, a city of Italy, where it formed 
the famous Schola Salernitana. The 
little book of medical precepts in leonine 
heroics, which bears the name of that 
school, is well known. This system was 
composed at the desire of Robert duke of 
Normandy, William the Conqueror's son ; 
who returning from Jerusalem in one of 
the crusades, and having heard of the 

fame of those Salernitan physicians, ap- 
plied to them for the cure of a wound 
made by a poisoned arrow. It was written 
not only in verse, but in rhyming verse, 
that the prince might more easily retain 
the rules in his memory. It was pub- 
lished 1100. The author's name is Gio- 
vanni di Milano, a celebrated Salernitan 
physician. The monks of Cassino, here- 
after mentioned, much improved this 
study. See Chron. Cassin. 1. iii. c. 35. 
Medicine was at first practised by the 
monks or the clergy, who adopted it with 
the rest of the Arabian learning. See P. 
Diac. De Vir. illustr. cap. xiii. et ibid. Not. 
Mar. See also Ab. de Nuce ad Chron. 
Cassin. 1. i. c. 9. and Leon. Ostiens. 
Chron. 1. iii. c. 7. See Sect. xvii. vol. ii. 
p. 204. infr. 

p Compare Renaudot, ubi supr. p. 258. 

q Their caliph Al-manun was a sin- 
gular encourager of these translations. 
He was a great master of the speculative 
sciences ; and for his better information in 
them, invited learned men from all parts 
of the world to Bagdad. He favoured the 
learned of every religion ; and in return 
they made him presents of their works, 
collected from the choicest pieces of 
Eastern literature, whether of Indians, 
Jews, Magians, or oriental Christians. 
He expended immense sums in purchasing 
valuable books written in Hebrew, Syriac, 
and Greek, that they might be translated 
into Arabic. Many Greek treatises of 
medicine were translated into that lan- 
guage by his orders. He hired the most 
learned persons from all quarters of his 
vast dominions to make these translations. 



Arabic translations of the Greek philosophers produced new treatises of 
their own, particularly in medicine and metaphysics. They continued 
to extend their conquests, and their frequent incursions into Europe 
before and after the ninth century, and their absolute establishment in 
Spain, imported the rudiments of useful knowledge into nations in- 
volved in the grossest ignorance, and unpossessed of the means of 
instruction. They founded universities in many cities of Spain and 
Africa 1 ". They brought with them their books, which Charlemagne, 
emperor of France and Germany, commanded to be translated from 
Arabic into Latin 8 ; and which, by the care and encouragement of that 
liberal prince, being quickly disseminated over his extensive dominions, 
soon became familiar to the western world. Hence it is, that we find 
our early Latin authors of the dark ages chiefly employed in writing 
systems of the most abstruse sciences : arid from these beginnings the 
Aristotelic philosophy acquired such establishment and authority, that 
from long prescription it remains to this day the sacred and uncontro- 
verted doctrine of our schools*. From this fountain the infatuations of 

Many celebrated astronomers flourished in 
his reign; and he was himself famed for his 
skill in astronomy. This was about the 
year of Christ 820. See Leo African, de 
Med. et Phil. Arab. cap. i. Al-Makin, pp. 
139, 140. Eutych. pp. 434, 435. 

A curious circumstance of the envy with 
which the Greeks at Constantinople treat- 
ed this growing philosophy of the Arabians, 
is mentioned by Cedrenus. Al-manun, 
hearing of one Leo an excellent mathe- 
matician at Constantinople, wrote to the 
emperor, requesting that Leo might be 
permitted to settle in his dominions, with 
a most ample salary, as a teacher in that 
science. The emperor, by this means 
being made acquainted with Leo's merit, 
established a school, in which he appointed 
Leo a professor, for the sake of a specious 
excuse. The caliph sent a second time to 
the emperor, entreating that Leo might 
reside with him for a short time only ; 
offering likewise a large sum of money, 
and terms of lasting peace and alliance ; 
on which the emperor immediately cre- 
ated Leo bishop of Thessalonica. Cedren. 
Hist. Comp. 548. seq. Herbelot also re- 
lates, that the same caliph, so universal 
was his search after Greek books, pro- 
cured a copy of Apollonius Pergseus the 
mathematician. But this copy contained 
only seven books. In 4 the mean time, 
finding by the Introduction that the whole 
consisted of eight books, and that the 
eighth book was the foundation of the 
rest, and being informed that there was a 
complete copy in the emperor's library at 
Constantinople, he applied to him for a 
transcript. But the Greeks, merely from 

a principle of jealousy, would not suffer 
the application to reach the emperor, and 
it did not take effect. Biblioth. Oriental, 
p. 978. col. a. 

r See Hotting. Hist. Eccl. Sane. ix. 
sect. ii. lit. Gg. According to the best 
writers of oriental history, the Arabians 
had made great advances on the coasts 
communicating with Spain, I mean in 
Africa, about the year of Christ 692. 
and they became actually masters of 
Spain itself in the year 712. See Mod. 
Univ. Hist. vol. ii. pp. 168. 179. edit. 1759. 
It may be observed, that Sicily became 
part of the dominion of the Saracens 
within sixty years after Mahomet's death, 
and in the seventh century, together with 
almost all Asia and Africa. Only part of 
Greece and the lesser Asia then remained 
to the Grecian empire at Constantinople. 
Conring. De Script. &c. Comment, p. 101. 
edit. Wratisl. 1727. See also Univ. Hist, 
ut supr. 

* Cuspinian. de Caesarib. p. 419. 

1 Yet it must not be forgot, that St. 
Austin had translated part of Aristotle's 
logic from the original Greek into Latin 
before the fifth century ; and that the 
peripatetic philosophy must have been 
partly known to the western scholars from 
the writings and translations of Boethius, 
who flourished about the year 520. Al- 
cuine, Charlemagne's master, commends 
St. Austin's book DbPreedicamentis, which 
he calls, Decent Natural Verba. Rog. 
Bacon, de Util. Sclent, cap. xiv. See 
also Op. Maj. An ingenious and learned 
writer, already quoted, affirms, that in the 
age of Charlemagne there were many 


astrology took possession of the middle ages, and were continued even 
to modern times. To the peculiar genius of this people it is owing, 
that chemistry became blended with so many extravagances, obscured 
with unintelligible jargon, and filled with fantastic notions, mysterious 
pretensions, and superstitious operations. And it is easy to conceive, 
that among these visionary philosophers, so fertile in speculation, logic 
and metaphysics contracted much of that refinement and perplexity 
which for so many centuries exercised the genius of profound reasoners 
and captious disputants, and so long obstructed the progress of true 
knowledge. It may perhaps be regretted in the mean time, that this 
predilection of the Arabian scholars for philosophic inquiries prevented 
them from importing into Europe a literature of another kind. But 
rude and barbarous nations would not have been polished by the hi- 
story, poetry, and oratory of the Greeks. Although capable of com- 
prehending the solid truths of many parts of science, they are unprepared 
to be impressed with ideas of elegance, and to relish works of taste. 
Men must be instructed before they can be refined ; and, in the gra- 
dations of knowledge, polite literature does not take place till some 
progress has first been made in philosophy. Yet it is at the same time 
probable, that the Arabians, among their literary stores, brought into 
Spain and Italy many Greek authors not of the scientific species"; and 
that the migration of this people into the western world, while it proved 
the fortunate instrument of introducing into Europe some of the Greek 
classics at a very early period, was moreover a means of preserving 
those genuine models of composition, and of transmitting them to the 

Greek scholars who made translations of had read it over two hundred times, and 
Aristotle, which were in use below the yet was equally desirous of reading it 
year 1100. I will not believe that any again. Fabric. Bibl. Gr. xiii. 265. Her- 
Europeans, properly so called, were com- belot mentions Aristotle's Morals, trans- 
petently skilled in Greek for this purpose lated by Honain, Bibl. Oriental, p. 963 a. 
in the time of Charlemagne ; nor, if they See also p. 971 a. 973. p. 974 b. Corn- 
were, is it likely that of themselves they pare Mosheim, Hist. ch. i. pp. 217. 288. 
should have turned their thoughts to note C. p. 2. ch. 1. Averroys also pa- 
Aristotle's philosophy. Unless by viri raphrased Aristotle's Rhetoric: There 
Grace docti this writer means the learned are also translations into Arabic of Ari- 
Arabs of Spain, which does not appear stotle's Analytics and his treatise of Inter- 
from his context. See Euseb. Renaudot, pretation. The first they called Analuthica, 
ut supr. p. 247. and the second, BariArmenias. ButAri- 
u It must not be forgot, that they trans- stotle's logic, metaphysics, and physics 
lated Aristotle's Poetics. There is extant pleased them most; particularly the eight 
" Averroys Summa in Aristotelis poetriam books of his physics, which exhibit a ge- 
ex Arabico sermone in Latinum traducta neral view of that science. Some of our 
ab Hermano Alemanno : Praemittitur de- countrymen were translators of these f 
terminatio Ibinrosdin in poetria Aristo- Arabic books into Latin. Athelard, a 
telis. Venet. 1515." There is a transla- monk of Bath, translated the Arabic 
tion of the Poetics into Arabic by Abou Euclid into Latin, about 1000. Leland. 
Muschar Metta, entitled Abotica. See Script. Brit. p. 200. There are some ma- 
Herbel. Bibl. Oriental, p. 18. col. a. p. 971 nuscriptsof it in the Bodleian library, and 
b. p. 40. col. 2. p. 337. col. 2. Farabi, elsewhere; but the most beautiful and 
who studied at Bagdad about the year elegant copy I have seen is on vellum, in 
930, one of the translators of Aristotle's Trinity college library at Oxford. Cod. 
Analytics, wrote sixty books on that phi- MSS. Num. 10. 
losopher's Rhetoric ; declaring that he 



present generation v . It is certain, that about the close of the ninth 
century, polite letters, together with the sciences, began in some degree 
to be studied in Italy, France, and Germany. Charlemagne, whose 
munificence and activity in propagating the Arabian literature has 
already been mentioned, founded the universities of Bononia, Pavia, 
Paris, and Osnaburgh. Charles the Bald seconded the salutary endea- 
vours of Charlemagne. Lothaire, the brother of the latter, erected 
schools in the eight principal cities of Italy w . The number of monas- 
teries and collegiate churches in those countries was daily increasing x ; 
in which the youth, as a preparation to the study of the sacred scrip- 
tures, were exercised in reading profane authors, together with the 
ancient doctors of the church, and habituated to a Latin style. The 
monks of Cassino in Italy were distinguished before the year 1000, not 
only for their knowledge of the sciences, but their attention to polite 
learning, and an acquaintance with the classics. Their learned abbot 
Desiderius collected the best of the Greek and Roman writers. This 
fraternity not only composed learned treatises in music, logic, astro- 
nomy, and the Vitruvian architecture, but likewise employed a portion 
of their time in transcribing Tacitus ?, Jornandes, Josephus, Ovid's 
Fasti, Cicero, Seneca, Donatus the grammarian, Virgil, Theocritus, and 
Homer 2 . 

v See what I have said concerning the 
destruction of many Greek classics at 
Constantinople in the Preface to Theo- 
critus, Oxon. 1770. torn. i. Prefat. p. xiv. 
xv. To which I will add, that so early 
as the fourth century, the Christian priests 
did no small injury to ancient literature, 
by prohibiting and discouraging the study 
of the old pagan philosophers. Hence the 
story, that Jerom dreamed he was whipped 
by the devil for reading Cicero. Compare 
what is said of Livy below. 

w A.D. 823. See Murator. Scriptor. 
Rer. Ltalicav. i. p. 151. 

* Cave mentions, " Csenobia Italica, 
Cassinense, Ferrariense : Germanica, Ful- 
dense, Sangellense, Augiense, Lobiense : 
Gallica, Corbiense, Rhemense, Orbacense, 
Floriacense," &c. Hist. Lit. Saec. Photian. 
p. 503. edit. 1688. Charlemagne also 
founded two archbishopricks and nine 
bishopricks in the most considerable 
towns of Germany. Aub. Miraei Op. 
Diplomat, i. p. 16. Charlemagne seems 
to have founded libraries. See J. David. 
Koeler, Diss. De Bibliotheca Caroli Mag. 
Altorg. 1727. and Act. Erudit. et Curios. 
Francon. P. x. p. 716. seq. 60. and Hist. 
Lit. Franc, torn. iv. 4to. p. 223. Compare 
Laun, c. iv. p. 30. Eginhart mentions 
his private library. Vit. Car. Mag. p. 41 a. 
edit. 1565. He even founded a library 
at Jerusalem for the use of those western 

pilgrims who visited the holy sepulchre. 
Hist. Lit. ut supr. p. 373. His successor 
also, Charles the Bald, erected many li- 
braries. Two of his librarians, Holduin 
and Ebbo, occur under that title in sub- 
scriptions. Bibl. Hist. Liter. Struvii et 
Jugl. cap. ii. sect. xvii. p. 172. This mon- 
arch, before his last expedition into Ita- 
ly, about the year 870, in case of his 
decease, orders his large library to be 
divided into three parts, and disposed of 
accordingly. Hist. Lit. ut supr. torn. v. 
p. 514. Launoy justly remarks, that many 
noble public institutions of Charles the 
Bald were referred by succeeding histo- 
rians to their more favourite hero Charle- 
magne. Ubi supr. p. 53. . edit. Fabric. 
Their immediate successors, at least of 
the German race, were not such conspi- 
cuous patrons of literature. 

y Lipsius says, that Leo the Tenth gave 
five hundred pieces of gold for the five 
first books of Tacitus's Annals, to the 
monks of a convent in Saxony. This 
Lipsius calls the resurrection of Tacitus 
to life. Ad Annal. Tacit, lib. ii. c.9. At 
the end of the edition of Tacitus pub- 
lished under Leo's patronage by Beroaldus 
in 1515, this edict is printed, "Nomine 
Leonis X. proposita sunt prsemia non me- 
diocria his qui ad eum libros veteres 
neque hactenus editos adtulerint." 

z Chron. Cassin. Monast. lib. iii. c. 35. 


In the mean time England shared these improvements in knowledge; 
and literature, chiefly derived from the same sources, was communi- 
cated to our Saxon ancestors about the beginning of the eighth cen- 
tury . The Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity about the 
year 570. In consequence of this event, they soon acquired civility 
and learning. Hence they necessarily established a communication 
with Rome, and acquired a familiarity with the Latin language. During 
this period, it was the prevailing practice among the Saxons, not only 
of the clergy but of the better sort of laity, to make a voyage to Rome d . 
It is natural to imagine with what ardour the new converts visited the 
holy see, which at the same time was fortunately the capital of litera- 
ture. While they gratified their devotion, undesignedly and imper- 
ceptibly they became acquainted with useful science. 

In return, Rome sent her emissaries into Britain. Theodore, a monk 
of Rome, originally a Greek priest, a native of Tarsus in Cilicia, was 
consecrated archbishop of Canterbury, and sent into England by pope 
Vitalian, in the year 668 e . He was skilled in the metrical art, astro- 
nomy, arithmetic, church music, and the Greek and Latin languages f . 
The new prelate brought with him a large library, as it was called and 
esteemed, consisting of numerous Greek and Latin authors ; among 
which were Homer in a large volume, written on paper with most ex- 
quisite elegance, the homilies of saint Chrysostom on parchment, the 

Poggius Florentinus found a Stratagemata Horace's Art of Poetry, Epistles, and 
of Frontinus, about the year 1420, in this Satires, with Eutropius, in the same, 
monastery. Mabillon, Mus. Ital. torn. i. 15 B. vii. 1. 2. 3. xvi. 1, &c. Willibold, 
p. 133. Manuscripts of the following one of the learned Saxons whose literature 
classics, now in the Harleian collection, will be mentioned in its proper place, 
appear to have been written between the having visited Rome and Jerusalem, re- 
eighth and tenth centuries inclusively. tired for some time to this monastery, 
Two copies of Terence, Brit. Mus. MSS. about the year 730. Vit. Williboldi, 
Harl. 2670. 2750. Cicerc's Paradoxa Stoi- Canis. Antiq. Lect. xv. 695. and Pantal. 
corum, the first book De Natura Deorum, de Vir. Illustr. par. ii. p. 263. And Biri- 
Orations against Catiline, De Oratore, nus, who came into England from Rome 
De Inventione Rhetorica, AdHerennium, about the year 630, with a design ofcon- 
n. 2622. 2716. 2623. and the Epistles, verting the Saxons, brought with him one 
with others of his works, n. 2682. A frag- Benedict, a monk of Cassino, whom he 
ment of the jEneid, n. 2772. Livy, n. 2672. placed over the monks or church of Win- 
Lucius Florus, n. 2620. Ovid's Metamor- Chester. Wharton, Angl. Sacr. i. 190. 
phoses and Fasti, n. 2737. Quintilian, c Cave, Saecul. Eutych. p. 382. 
n. 2664. Horace, the Odes excepted, n. d " Hiis temporibus multi Anglorum 
2725. Many of the same and other gentis nobiles et ignobiles viri et fceminge, 
classic authors occur in the British Mu- duces et privati, divini numinis instinctu, 
seum, written in the twelfth and thirteenth Romam venire consueverant." &c. Bede, 
centuries. See n. 5443. 2656. 2475. 2624. De Temp. Apud Leland, Script. Brit. 
2591. 2668. 2533. 2770. 2492. 2709. CEOLFRIDUS. 

2655. 2654. 2664. 2728. 5534. 2609. e Birchington, apud Wharton, Angl. 

2724. 5412. 2643. 5304. 2633. There Sacr. i. 2. Cave, Hist. Lit. p. 464. Parker, 

are four copies of Statius, one of the Antiquitat. Brit. p. 53. 
twelfth century, n. 2720 ; and three others * Bed. Hist. Ecclesiast. Gent. Angl. iv. 2. 

of the thirteenth, n. 2608. 2636. 2665. Bede says of Theodore and of Adrian men- 

Plautus's Comedies are among the royal tioned below, " Usque hodie stipersunt de 

manuscripts, written in the tenth, 15 C. eorum discipulis, qui Latinam Grsscamque 

xi. 4. and some parts of Tully in the linguam aeque ut propriam in qua nati 

tame, ibid. 1. Suetonius, 15 C. iv. 1. sunt, nonint." See also ibid. c. 1. 


Psalter, and Josephus's Hypomnesticon, all in Greeks. Theodore was 
accompanied into England by Adrian, a Neapolitan monk, and a native 
of Africa, who was equally skilled in sacred and profane learning, and 
at the same time appointed by the pope to the abbacy of Saint Austin's 
at Canterbury. Bede informs us, that Adrian requested Pope Vitalian to 
confer the archbishoprick on Theodore, and that the pope consented 
on condition that Adrian, " who had been twice in France, and on that 
account was better acquainted with the nature and difficulties of so long 
a journey," would conduct Theodore into Britain 11 . They were both 
escorted to the city of Canterbury by Benedict Biscop, a native of North- 
umberland, and a monk, who had formerly been acquainted with them 
in a visit which he made to Rome 1 . Benedict seems at this time to 
have been one of the most distinguished of the Saxon ecclesiastics : 
availing himself of the arrival of these two learned strangers, under 
their direction and assistance he procured workmen from France, and 
built the monastery of Weremouth in Northumberland. The church 
he constructed of stone, after the manner of the Roman architecture ; 
and adorned its walls and roof with pictures, which he purchased at 
Rome, representing among other sacred subjects the Virgin Mary, the 
twelve apostles, the evangelical history, and the visions of the Apoca- 
lypse 11 . The windows were glazed by artists brought from France. 
But I mention this foundation to introduce an anecdote much to our 
purpose. Benedict added to his monastery an ample library, which he 
stored with Greek and Latin volumes, imported by himself from Italy 1 . 
Bede has thought it a matter worthy to be recorded, that Ceolfrid, his 
successor in the government of Weremouth abbey, augmented this 
collection with three volumes of pandects, and a book of cosmography 
wonderfully enriched with curious workmanship and bought at Rome m . 
The example of the pious Benedict was immediately followed by Acca, 
bishop of Hexham in the same province : who having finished his ca- 
thedral church by the help of architects, masons, and glasiers hired in 
Italy, adorned it, according to Leland, with a valuable library of Greek 
and Latin authors". But Bede, Acca's cotemporary, relates, that this 

E Parker, utsupr. p. 80. See also Lam- that province came from various parts to 

barde'sPeramb. Kent, p. 233. A transcript hear him sing. Bed. Hist. Eccl. iv. 18. 

of the Josephus 500 years old was given He likewise brought over from Rome two 

to the public library at Cambridge by the silken palls of exquisite workmanship, 

archbishop. See Fabric. Bibl. Gr. x. 109. with which he afterwards purchased of 

h Bed. Hist. Eccl. iv. 1. " Et ob id king Aldfrid, successor of Elfrid, two pieces 

majorem notitiam hujus itineris," &c. of land for his monastery. Bed. Vit. Abb. 

' See Math. Westmon. sub an, 703. ut supr. p. 297. Bale censures Benedict 

Lei. Script. Brit. p. 109. for being the first who introduced into 

k See Bede, Hist. Abbat. Wiremuth. England painters, glasiers, et id genus 

pp. 295. 297. edit. Cantab. In one of alios AD VOLUPTATEM artifices. Cent. i. 

his expeditions to Rome, he brought over 82. This is the language of a Puritan in 

John, arch-chantor of St. Peter's at Rome, life, as well as in religion, 
who introduced the Roman method of ' Lei. ubi supr. 110. 

singing mass. Bed. ibid. p. 295. He m Bede, Hist. Abbat. Wiremuth. p. 299. 

taught the monks of Benedict's abbey; Op. Bed. edit. Cantab, 
and all the singers of the monasteries of " Lei. ibid. p. 105. 

VOL. I. Q 


library was entirely composed of the histories of those apostles and 
martyrs to whose relics he had dedicated several altars in his church, 
and other ecclesiastical treatises which he had collected with infinite 
labour . Bede however calls it a most copious and noble library?. 
Nor is it foreign to our purpose to add, that Acca invited from Kent 
into Northumberland, and retained in his service during the space of 
twelve years, a celebrated chantor named Maban : by the assistance of 
whose instructions and superintendance he not only regulated the 
church music of his diocese, but introduced the use of many Latin 
hymns hitherto unknown in the northern churches of England 1. It 
appears that before the arrival of Theodore and Adrian, celebrated 
schools for educating youth in the sciences had been long established 
in Kent 1 ". Literature, however, seems at this period to have flourished 
with equal reputation at the other extremity of the island, and even in 
our most northern provinces. Ecbert bishop of York founded a library 
in his cathedral, which, like some of those already mentioned, is said to 
have been replenished with a variety of Latin and Greek books 8 . Al- 
cuine, whom Ecbert appointed his first librarian, hints at this library 
in a Latin epistle to Charlemagne. " Send me from France some 
learned treatises, of equal excellence with those which I preserve here 
in England under my custody, collected by the industry of my master 
Ecbert : and I will send to you some of my youths, who shall carry 
with them the flowers of Britain into France. So that there shall not 
only be an inclosed garden at York, but also at Tours some sprouts of 
Paradise*," &c. William of Malmesbury judged this library to be of 
sufficient importance not only to be mentioned in his History, but to 
be styled, " Omnium liberalium artium armarium, nobilissimam biblio- 
thecam u ." This repository remained till the reign of King Stephen, 
when it was destroyed by fire, with great part of the city of York v . Its 
founder Ecbert died in the year 767 w . Before the end of the eighth 
century, the monasteries of Westminster, Saint Alban's, Worcester, 

Bed. Hist. v. 21. p Ibid. v. c. 20. Dunstan below. And Osb. Vit. S. Dunst. 

q Bed. Hist. Eccl. v. c. 21. Maban had Wharton, Angl. Sacr. ii. 93. 

been taugbt to sing in Kent by the sue- [Mr. Turner has quoted a passage from 

cessors of the disciples of Saint Gregory. Aldhelm's poem " De Laude Virginum," 

Compare Bed. iv. 2. If we may believe which confirms this statement of Malmes- 

William of Malmesbury, who wrote about bury, 
the year 1120, they had organs in the 

Saxon churches before the Conquest. He Maxima millems auscultans organa fla- 
says that archbishop Dunstan, in king 

Edgar's reign, gave an organ to the Mulceat auditum ventosis follibus iste, 
abbey-church of Malmesbury ; which he Quamhbet auratis fulgescant csetera cap- 
describes to have been like those in use S1S " VoL iL P- 408. PRICE.] 
at present. " Organa, ubi per eereas fis- r See Bed. Op. per Smith, p. 724. seq. 
tulas musicis mensuris elaboratas, dudum Append. 

conceptas follis vomit anxius auras." Wil- * Lei. p. 114. [The only Greek classic 

liam, who was a monk of this abbey, adds, was Aristotle. PRICE.] 

that this benediction of Dunstan was in- l Bale, ii. 15. u De Reg. i. 1. 

scribed in a Latin distich, which he quotes, Y Pits, p. 154. 

on the organ pipes. Vit. Aldhelm. Whart. w Cave, Hist. Lit. p. 486. 
Ang. Sacr. ii. p. 33. See what is said of 


Malmesbury, Glastoribury, with some others, were founded and opu- 
lently endowed. That of Saint Alban's was filled with one hundred 
monks by King Offa x . Many new bishopricks were also established 
in England : all which institutions, by multiplying the number of eccle- 
siastics, turned the attention of many persons to letters. 

The best writers among the Saxons flourished about the eighth cen- 
tury. These were, Aldhelm bishop of Shirburn, Ceolfrid, Alcuine, and 
Bede ; with whom I must also join King Alfred. But in an enquiry of 
this nature, Alfred deserves particular notice, not only as a writer, but 
as the illustrious rival of Charlemagne in protecting and assisting the 
restoration of literature. He is said to have founded the university of 
Oxford ; and it is highly probable, that in imitation of Charlemagne's 
similar institutions, he appointed learned persons to give public and 
gratuitous instructions in theology, but principally in the fashionable 
sciences of logic, astronomy, arithmetic, and geometry at that place, 
which was then a considerable town, and conveniently situated in the 
neighbourhood of those royal seats at which Alfred chiefly resided. 
He suffered no priest that was illiterate to be advanced to any ecclesi- 
astical dignity y. He invited his nobility to educate their sons in learn- 
ing, and requested those lords of his court who had no children to send 
to school such of their younger servants as discovered a promising ca- 
pacity, and to breed them to the clerical profession 2 . Alfred, while a 
boy, had himself experienced the inconveniences arising from a want 
of scholars, and even of common instructors, in his dominions ; for he 
was twelve years of age before he could procure in the western king- 
dom a master properly qualified to teach him the alphabet. But, while 
yet unable to read, he could repeat from memory a great variety of 
Saxon songs a . life was fond of cultivating his native tongue : and with 

* A. D. 793. See Dugd. Monast. i. sented the first rudiments of a striking 
p. 177. clock. It was brought as a present to 

y MS. Bever, MSS. Coll. Trin. Oxon. Charlemagne, from Abdella king of Per- 

Codd. xlvii. f. 82. z Bever, ibid. sia, by two monks of Jerusalem, in the 

* Flor. Vigorn. sub ann. 871. Bromp- year 800. Among other presents, says 
ton, Chron. in Alfr. p. 814. And MS. Eginhart, was an horologe of brass, won- 
Bever, ut supr. It is curious to observe derfully constructed by some mechanical 
the simplicity of this age, in the method artifice, in which the course of the twelve 
by which Alfred computed time. He hours ad clepsydram vertebatur, with as 
caused six wax tapers to be made, each many little brasen balls, which at the close 
twelve inches long, and of as many ounces of each hour dropped down on a sort of 
in weight: on these tapers he ordered the bells underneath, and sounded the end of 
inches to be regularly marked ; and having the hour. There were also twelve figures 
found that one of them burned just four of horsemen, who, when the twelve hours 
hours, he committed the care of ihstn to were completed, issued out at twelve win- 
the keepers of his chapel, who from time dows, which till then stood open, and re- 
to time gave due notice how the hours turning again, shut the windows after 
went. But as in windy weather the can- them. He adds, that there were many 
dies were more wasted, to remedy this other curiosities in this instrument, which 
inconvenience he invented lanthorns, there it would be tedious to recount. Eginhart, 
being then no glass to be met with in his Car. Magn. p. 108. It is to be remem- 
dominions. Asser. Menev. Vit. Alfr. p. bered, that Eginhart was an eye-witness 
68. edit. Wise. In the mean time, and of what is here described; and that he 
during this very period, the Persians im- was an abbot, a skilful architect, and very 
ported into Europe a machine, which pre- learned in the sciences. 



a view of inviting the people in general to a love of reading, and to a 
knowledge of books which they could not otherwise have understood, 
he translated many Latin authors into Saxon. These, among others, 
were Boethius OF THE CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY, a manuscript 
of which of Alfred's age still remains b , Orosius's HISTORY OF THE PA- 
GANS, Saint Gregory's PASTORAL CARE, the venerable Bede's ECCLE- 
SIASTICAL HISTORY, and the SOLILOQUIES of Saint Austin. Probably 
Saint Austin was selected by Alfred because he was the favourite au- 
thor of Charlemagne , Alfred died in the year 900, and was buried 
at Hyde abbey, in the suburbs of Winchester, under a sumptuous mo- 
nument of porphyry d . 

Aldhelm, kinsman of Ina king of the West Saxons, frequently visited 
France and Italy. While a monk of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, he went 
from his monastery to Canterbury, in order to learn logic, rhetoric, and 
the Greek language of archbishop Theodore, and of Albin abbot of 
Saint Austin's 6 , the pupil of Adrian f . But he had before acquired 
some knowledge of Greek and Latin under Maidulf, an Hibernian or 
Scot, who had erected a small monastery or school at Malmesbury #. 
Camden affirms, that Aldhelm was the first of the Saxons who wrote in 
Latin, and that he taught his countrymen the art of Latin versification 11 . 
But a very intelligent antiquarian in this stfrt of literature mentions an 
anonymous Latin poet who wrote the life of Charlemagne in verse ; 
and adds, that he was the first of the Saxons that attempted to write 
Latin verse'. It is however certain, that Aldhelin's Latin compositions, 
whether in verse or prose, as novelties were deemed extraordinary per- 
formances, and excited the attention and admiration of scholars in other 
countries. A learned cotemporary, who lived in a remote province of 
a Prankish territory, in an epistle to Aldhelm, has this remarkable ex- 
us even at this distance 11 ," &c. In reward of these uncommon merits 
he was made bishop of Shirburn in Dorsetshire in the year 705 l . His 
writings are chiefly theological : but he has likewise left in Latin verse.* 
a book of ^ENIGMATA, copied from a work of the same title under the 
name of Symposius 01 , a poem De VIRGINITATE hereafter cited, and 

b MSS. Cott. Oth. A. 6. 8vo. raembr. See W. Malmesb. apud Wharton, Angl. 

c He was particularly fond of Austin's Sacr. ii. 4. seq. 

book De Civitate Dei. Eginhart, Vit. * Conringius, Script. Comment, p. 108. 

Car. Magn. p. 29. This poem was printed by Reineccius at 

d Asser. Menev. p. 72. ed. Wise. Helmstadt many years ago, with a large 

e Bede says, that Theodore and Adrian commentary. Compare Voss.Hist.Lat.iii.4. 
taught Tobias bishop of Rochester the k W. Malmesb. ut supr. p. 4. 

Greek and Latin tongues so perfectly, that ' Cave, p. 466. 

he could speak them as fluently as his'na- m See Fabric. Bibl. Med. Lat. iv. p. 693. 

tive Saxon. Hist. Eccl. v. 23. And Bibl. Lat. i. p. 681. And W. Malm. 

{ Lei. p. 97. Thorn says, that Albin ubi supr. p. 7. Among the manuscripts of 

learned Greek of Adrian. Chron. Dec. Exeter cathedral is a book of JEnigmata in 

Script, p. 1771. Saxon, some of which are written in Runic 

g W. Malmesb. ubi infr. p. 3. characters, 11. fol. 98. [This book is now 

h Wiltsh. p. 116. But this, Aldhelm in the press for the Society of Antiquaries, 

affirms of himself in his treatise on Metre. under the care of Mr. Thorpe.] 



treatises on arithmetic, astrology, rhetoric, and metre. The last treatise 
is a proof that the ornaments of composition now began to be studied. 
Leland mentions his CANTIONES SAXONIC^E, one of which continued 
to be commonly sung in William of Malmesbury's time : and, as it was 
artfully interspersed with many allusions to passages of Scripture, was 
often sung by Aldhelm himself to the populace in the streets, with a 
design of alluring the ignorant and idle, by so specious a mode of in- 
struction, to a sense of duty, and a knowledge of religious subjects". 
Malmesbury observes, that Aldhelm might be justly deemed " ex acu- 
mine Graecum, ex nitore Romanurn, et ex pompa Anglum ." It is 
evident, that Malmesbury, while he here characterizes the Greeks by 
their acuteness, took his idea of them from their scientifical literature, 
which was then only known. After the revival of the Greek philoso- 
phy by the Saracens, Aristotle and Euclid were familiar in Europe long 
before Homer and Pindar. The character of Aldhelm is thus drawn 
by an ancient chronicler ; " He was an excellent harper, a most eloquent 
Saxon and Latin poet, a most expert chantor or singer, a DOCTOR 
EGREGIUS, and admirably versed in the scriptures and the liberal sci- 
ences P." 

n Malmesb. ubi supr. p. 4. 

Ubi supr. p. 4. 

p Chron. Anon. Leland. Collectan. ii. 
278. To be skilled in singing is often men- 
tioned as an accomplishment of the an- 
cient Saxon ecclesiastics. Bede says, that 
Edda a monk of Canterbury, and a learned 
writer, was " primus cantandi magister." 
Hist. lib. iv. cap. 2. Wolstan, a learned 
monk of Winchester, of the same age, was 
a celebrated singer, and even wrote a 
treatise De Tonorum Harmonia, cited by 
William of Malmesbury, De Reg. lib. ii. 
c. 39. Lei. Script. Brit. p. 165. Their 
skill in playing on the harp is also fre- 
quently mentioned. Of Saint Dunstan, 
archbishop of Canterbury, about the year 
988, it is said, that among his sacred stu- 
dies, he cultivated the arts of writing, 
harping, and painting. Vit. S. Dunstan. 
MSS. Cott. Brit. Mus. Faustin. B. 13. 
Hickes has engraved a figure of our Sa- 
viour drawn by Saint Dunstan, with a 
specimen of his writing, both remaining 
in the Bodleian library. Gram. Saxon. 
p. 104. cap. xxii. The writing and many 
of the pictures and illuminations in our 
Saxon manuscripts were executed by the 
priests. A book of the gospel preserved 
in the Cotton library is a fine specimen 
of the Saxon calligraphy and decorations. 
It is written by Eadfrid bishop of Durham 
in the most exquisite manner. Ethelwold 
his successor did the illuminations, the 
capital letters, the picture of the cross, and 
the evangelists, with infinite labour and 
elegance : and Bilfrid the anachorete co- 

vered the book, thus written and adorned, 
with gold and silver plates and precious 
stones. All this is related by Aldred, the 
Saxon glossator, at the end of St. John's 
gospel. The work was finished about the 
year 720. MSS. Cott. Brit. Mus. Nero, D. 
4. Cod. membr. fol. quadrat. jElfsin, a 
monk, is the elegant scribe of many Saxon 
pieces, chiefly historical and scriptural, in 
the same library, and perhaps the painter 
of the figures, probably soon after the year 
978. Ibid, Titus, D. 26. Cod. membr. 8vo. 
The Saxon copy of the four evangelists 
which king Athelstan gave to Durham 
church, remains in the same library. It 
has the painted images of St. Cuthbert, ra- 
diated and crowned, blessing king Athel- 
stan, and of the four evangelists. [Since 
engraved in the third volume of Strutt's 
Manners and Customs of the English : 
and in vol. i. of the same work there is an 
engraving of the figure of our Saviour by 
St. Dunstan mentioned in this note. 
PARK.] This is undoubtedly the work 
of the monks ; but Wanley believed it to 
have been done in France. Otho, B. 9. 
Cod. membran. fol. At Trinity college in 
Cambridge is a Psalter in Latin and Saxon, 
admirably written, and illuminated with 
letters in gold, silver, miniated, &c. It is 
full of a variety of historical pictures. At 
the end is the figure of the writer Eadwin, 
supposed to be a monk of Canterbury, 
holding a pen of metal, undoubtedly used 
in such sort of writing ; with an inscription 
importing his name and excellence in the 
calligraphic art. It appears to be per- 



Alcuine, bishop Ecbert's librarian at York, was a cotemporary pupil 
with Aldhelm under Theodore and Adrian at Canterbury Q. During 
the present period, there seems to have been a close correspondence 
and intercourse between the French and Anglo-Saxons in matters of 
literature. Alcuine was invited from England into France, to super- 
intend the studies of Charlemagne, whom he instructed in logic, rhe- 
toric, and astronomy 1 ". He was also the master of Rabanus Maurus, 
who became afterwards the governor and preceptor of the great abbey 
of Fulda in Germany, one of the most flourishing seminaries in Europe, 
founded by Charlemagne, and inhabited by two hundred and seventy 
monks 8 . Alcuine was likewise employed by Charlemagne to regulate 
the lectures and discipline of the universities 4 , which that prudent and 
magnificent potentate had newly constituted". He is said to have 

formed about the reign of King Stephen. 
Cod. membr. fol. post Class, a dextr. Ser. 
Med. 5. [among the Single Codices,~\ Ead- 
win was a famous and frequent writer of 
books for the library of Christ-church at 
Canterbury, as appears by a catalogue of 
their books taken A.D. 1315. In Bibl. 
Cott. Galb. E 4. The eight historical 
pictures richly illuminated with gold, of 
the Annunciation, the Meeting of Mary 
and Elizabeth, &c. in a manuscript of the 
gospel, are also thought to be of the reign 
of King Stephen, yet perhaps from the 
same kind of artists. The Saxon clergy 
were ingenious artificers in many other 
respects. St. Dunstan above mentioned 
made two of the bells of Abingdon abbey 
with his own hands. Monast. Anglic, torn, 
i. p. 104. John of Glastonbury, who wrote 
about the year 1400, relates, that there 
remained in the abbey at Glastonbury, in 
his time, crosses, incense-vessels, and 
vestments, made by Dunstan while a monk 
there, cap. 161. He adds, that Dunstan 
also handled "scalpellum ut sculperet." 
It is said, that he could model any image 
in brass, iron, gold, or silver. Osb. Vit. 
S. Dunstan. apud Whart. ii. 94. Ervene, 
one of the teachers of Wolstan bishop of 
Worcester, perhaps a monk of Bury, was 
famous for calligraphy, and skill in co- 
lours. To invite his pupils to read, he 
made use of a Psalter and Sacramentary, 
whose capital letters he had richly illu- 
minated with gold. This was about the 
year 980. Will. Malmesb. Vit. Wulst. 
Wharton, Angl. Sacr. p. 244. William 
of Malmesbury says, that Elfric, a Saxon 
abbot of Malmesbury, was a skilful archi- 
tect, adificandi gnarus. Vit. Aldhelm. 
Wharton, Ansl. Sacr. ii, p. 33. Herman, 
one of the Norman bishops of Salisbury, 
about 1080, condescended to write, bind, 
and illuminate books. Monast. Angl. torn, 
iii. p. 375. 

In some of these instances I have wan- 

dered below the Saxon times. It is in- 
deed evident from various proofs which I 
could give, that the religious practised 
these arts long afterwards. But the ob- 
ject of this note was the existence of them 
among the Saxon clergy. 

q Dedicat. Hist. Eccl. Bed. [See note x 
in next page. M.] 

r Eginhart. Vit. Car. Magn. p. 30. ed. 
1565. 4to. 

8 Rabanus instructed them not only in 
the Scriptures, but in profane literature. 
A great number of other scholars fre- 
quented these lectures. He was the first 
founder of a library in this monastery. 
Cave, Hist. Lit. p. 540. Ssec. Phot. His 
leisure hours being entirely taken up in 
reading or transcribing, he was accused 
by some of the idle monks of attending so 
much to his studies, that he neglected the 
public duties of his station, and the care 
of the revenues of the abbey. They there- 
fore removed him, yet afterwards in vain 
attempted to recall him. Serrar. Rer. Mo- 
gunt. lib. iv. p. 625. 

1 John Mailros, a Scot, one of Bede's 
scholars, is said to have been employed 
by Charlemagne in founding the univer- 
sity of Pavia. Dempst. xii. 904. 

* See Op. Alcuin. Paris. 1617. fol. Prae- 
fat. Andr. Quercetan. Mabillon says, that 
Alcuine pointed the homilies, and St. Aus- 
tin's epistle, at the instance of Charle- 
magne. Carl. Magn. R. Diplomat, p. 52 
a. Charlemagne was most fond of astro- 
nomy. He learned also arithmetic. In 
his treasury he had three tables of silver, 
and a fourth of gold, of great weight and 
size. One of these, which was square, had 
a picture or representation of Constanti- 
nople : another, a round one, a map of 
Rome : a third, which was of the most ex- 
quisite workmanship, and greatest weight, 
consisting of three orbs, contained a map 
of the world. Eginhart, ubi supr. pp. 29. 
31. 41. 


joined to the Greek and Latin an acquaintance with the Hebrew tongue, 
which perhaps in some degree was known sooner than we may suspect ; 
for at Trinity college in Cambridge there is an Hebrew Psalter, with a 
Normanno-Gallic interlinear version of great antiquity w . Homilies, 
lives of saints, commentaries on the Bible, with the usual systems of 
logic, astronomy, rhetoric, and grammar, compose the formidable cata- 
logue of Alcuine's numerous writings. Yet in his books of the sciences 
he sometimes ventured to break through the pedantic formalities of a 
systematical teacher : he has thrown one of his treatises in logic, and, I 
think, another in grammar, into a dialogue between the author and 
Charlemagne. He first advised Bede to write his ecclesiastical history 
of England ; and was greatly instrumental in furnishing materials for 
that early and authentic record of our antiquities x . 

In the mean time we must not form too magnificent ideas of these 
celebrated masters of science who were thus invited into foreign coun- 
tries to conduct the education of mighty monarchs, and to plan the ru- 
diments of the most illustrious academies. Their merits are in great 
measure relative. Their circle of reading was contracted, their systems 
of philosophy jejune ; and their lectures rather served to stop the growth 
of ignorance, than to produce any positive or important improvements 
in knowledge. They were unable to make excursions from their cir- 
cumscribed paths of scientific instruction into the spacious and fruitful 
regions of liberal and manly study. Those of their hearers who had 
passed through the course of the sciences with applause, and aspired to 
higher acquisitions, were exhorted to read Cassiodorus and Boethius; 
whose writings they placed at the summit of profane literature, and 
which they believed to be the great boundaries of human erudition. 

I have already mentioned Ceolfrid's presents of books to Benedict's 
library at Weremouth abbey. He wrote an account of his travels into 
France and Italy. But his principal work, and I believe the only one 
preserved, is his dissertation concerning the clerical tonsure, and the 

w MSS. Cod. Coll. S. S. Trin. Cant. memoratum interpretem pure pervenisse," 

Class, a dextr. Ser. Med. 5 membran. 4to. &c. He mentions on this occasion the 

[This description of the MS. of Trin. Coll. Greek Se- toagint translation of the Bible, 

is very incorrect. It is a Latin psalter, but not as if he had ever seen or consulted 

and not a Hebrew psalter. The Latin, it. Bed. Chron. p. .34. edit. Cant. Op. Bed. 
after two versions, one of which is Jerome's * Dedicat. Hist. Eccl. Bed. To King 

after the Hebrew, is given in separate co- Ceolwulphus, pp. 37, 38. edit. Op. Cant, 

lumns ; and over the lines in one column is [The statement in the text is not correct, 

a regular translation in Anglo-Norman, but carelessly copied from Bale and Cave, 

over the other in Anglo-Saxon, of that According to the best-informed writers, 

period, which is probably about the date Alchuine was born about the year 735, and 

(or even earlier) which Warton gives it was a mere infant at the period of Bede's 

in a preceding note. W.] Bede says, death. The Albinus referred to by the 

that he compiled part of his Chronicon, ex historian was, as appears from lib. v. c. 21, 

Hebraica veritate, that is from St. Jerom's a disciple of Adrian, abbot of St. Augus- 

Latin translation of the Bible; for he tine's monastery, Canterbury, and his suc- 

adds, " nos qui per beati interpretis Hie- cessor in that office. See the Commentary 

ronymi industriam puro HEBRAIC^E VE- on Alchuine's life by Froben, prefixed to 

RITATIS fonte potamur,"&c. And again, his edition of the former's works: fol. 

" Ex Hebraica veritate, quae ad nos per Ratisbon, 1777. M.] 


rites of celebrating Easter ?. This was written at the desire of Naiton, 
a Pictish king, who dispatched ambassadors to Ceolfrid for information 
concerning these important articles ; requesting Ceolfrid at the same 
time to send him some skilful architects, who could build in his coun- 
try a church of stone,after the fashion of the Romans". Ceolfrid died 
on a journey to Rome, and was buried in a monastery of Navarre, in 
the year 706 b . 

But Bede, whose name is so nearly and necessarily connected with 
every part of the literature of this period, and which has therefore 
been often already mentioned, emphatically styled the Venerable by 
his cotemporaries, was by far the most learned of the Saxon writers. 
He was of the northern school, if it may be so called; and was educated 
in the monastery of Saint Peter at Weremouth, under the care of the 
abbots Ceolfrid and Biscop c . Bale affirms, that Bede learned physics 
and mathematics from the purest sources, the original Greek and Ro- 
man writers on these subjects d . But this hasty assertion, in part at 
least, may justly be doubted. His knowledge, if we consider his age, 
was extensive and profound : and it is amazing, in so rude a period, 
"and during a life of no considerable length, he should have made so 
successful a progress, and such rapid improvements, in scientifical and 
philological studies, and have composed so many elaborate treatises on 
different subjects 6 . It is diverting to see the French critics censuring 
Bede for credulity: they might as well have accused him of supersti- 
tion f . There is much perspicuity and facility in his Latin style ; but 

y Bed. Hist. Eccl. v. 22. And Concil. young man in shining apparel came and 
Gen. vi. p. 1423. led him, without speaking, to a valley of 
* Bed. Hist. Eccl. ib. c. 21. iv. 18. infinite depth, length, and breadth : one 
b Bed. Hist. Abb. p. 300. side was formed by a prodigious sheet of 
c Bed. Hist. Eccl. v. 24. fire, and the opposite side filled with hail 
d ii. 94. and ice. Both sides were swarming with 
e " Libros septuaginta octo edidit, quos souls of departed men, who were for ever 
ad finem HISTORIC suae ANGLICANS in search of rest, alternately shifting their 
edidit. [See Op. edit. Cant. pp. 222, 223. situation to these extremes of heat and 
lib. v. c. 24.] Hie succumbit ingenium, cold. The monk supposing this place to 
deficit eloquium, sufficienter admirari be hell, was told by his guide that he was 
hominem a scholastico exercitio tarn pro- mistaken. The guide then led him, greatly 
cul amotum, tarn sobrio sermone tanta terrified with this spectacle, to a more di- 
eluborasse volumina." &c. Chron. Praef. stant place, where he says, " I saw on a 
Bever. MSS. Coll. Trin. Oxon. ut supr. sudden a darkness come on, and every 
f. 65. [Bever was a monk of Westmin- thing was obscured. When I entered this 
ster circ. A.D. 1400.] For a full and ex- place I could discern no object, on account 
act list of Bede's works, the curious of the increasing darkness, except the 
reader is referred to Mabillon, Saec. iii. countenance and glittering garments of 
p. i. p. 539. Or Cave, Hist. Lit. ii. p. my conductor. As we went forward I 
242. beheld vast torrents of flame spouting up- 
f It is true, that Bede has introduced wards from the ground, as from a large 
many miracles and visions into his hi- well, and falling down into it again. As 
story. Yet some of these are pleasing to we came near it my guide suddenly va- 
the imagination: they are tinctured with nished, and left me alone in the midst of 
the gloom of the cloister, operating on the darkness and this horrible vision. De- 
extravagances of oriental invention. I formed and uncouth spirits arose from 
will give an instance or two. A monk of this blazing chasm, and attempted to draw 
Northumberland died, and was brought me in with fiery forks." But his guide 
again to life. In this interval of death, a here returned, and they all retired at his 


it is void of elegance, and often of purity ; it shows with what grace 
and propriety he would have written, had his mind been formed on 
better models. Whoever looks for digestion of materials, .disposition 
of parts, and accuracy of narration in this writer's historical works, 
expects what could not exist at that time. He -has recorded but few 
civil transactions; but besides that his history professedly considers 
ecclesiastical affairs, we should remember, that the building of a church, 
the preferment of an abbot, the canonisation of a martyr, and the im- 
portation into England of the shin-bone of an apostle, were necessarily 
matters of much more importance in Bede's conceptions than victories 
or revolutions, He is fond of minute description ; but particularities 
are the fault and often the merit of early historians 1 ". Bede wrote many 
pieces of Latin poetry. The following verses from his MEDITATIO DE 
DIE JUDICII, a translation of which into Saxon verse is now preserved 
in the library of Bennet college at Cambridge 3 , are at least well turned 
and harmonious. 

Inter florigeras fcecundi cespitis herbas, 
Flamine ventorum resonantibus undique ramis*. 

Some of Aldhelm's verses are exactly in this cast, written on the De- 
dication of the abbey-church at Malmesbury to Saint Peter and Saint 

Hie celebranda rudis u florescit gloria templi, 
Limpida quse sacri celebrat vexilla triumphi : 
Hie Petrus et Paulus, tenebrosi lumina mundi, 
Praecipui patres populi qui frena gubernant, 

appearance. Heave., is then described viour, is very particular in the account of 

with great strength of fancy. I have seen their names, age, and respective offerings, 

an old ballad, called the Dead Man's Song, He says, that Melchior was old, and had 

on this story ; and Milton's hell may grey hair, with a long beard ; and that it 

perhaps be taken from this idea. Bed. was he who offered gold to Christ, in ac- 

Hist. Eccl. v. 13. Our historian in the knowledgement of his sovereignty; that 

next chapter relates, that two most beau- Gaspar, the second of the magi, was young, 

tiful youths came to a person lying sick and had no beard; and that it was he who 

on his death-bed, and offered him a book offered frankincense in recognition of our 

to read, richly ornamented, in which his Lord's divinity ; and that Balthasar, the 

good actions were recorded. Immediate- third, was of a dark complexion, had a 

ly after this, the house was surrounded large beard, and offered myrrh to our 

and filled with an army of spirits of most Saviour's humanity." He is likewise very 

horrible aspect. One of them, who by circumstantial in the description of their 

the gloom of his darksome countenance dresses. Melanges de 1'Hist. et de Lit. 

appeared to be their leader, produced a Paris, 1725. 12mo. torn. iii. p. 283. &c. 

book, codicem horrendae visionis, et mag- What was more natural than this in such 

nitudinis enormis et ponderis pane impor- a writer and on such a subject? In the 

tabilis, and ordered some of his attendant mean time it may be remarked, that this 

demons to bring it to the sick man. In description of Bede, taken perhaps from 

this were contained all his sins, &c. ib. constant tradition, is now to be seen in 

cap. 14. the old pictures and popular representa- 

* An ingenious author who writes un- tions of the Wise Men's Offering. 
der the name of M. de Vigneul Marvillc, * Cod. MSS. Ixxix. P. 161. 

observes, that Bede, " when he speaks of l Malmesb. apud Whart. ut supr. p. 8. 

the Magi who went to worship our Sa- u recent; newly built. 


Carminibus crebris alma celebrantur in aula. 
Claviger o caeli, portam qui pandis in asthra, 
, Candida qui meritis recludis limina cseli, 
Exaudi clemens populorum vota tuorum, 
Marcida qui riguis humectant fletibus ora w . 

The strict and superabundant attention of these Latin poets to prosodic 
rules, on which it was become fashionable to write didactic systems, 
made them accurate to excess in the metrical conformation of their 
hexameters, and produced a faultless and flowing monotony. Bede died 
in the monastery of Weremouth, which he never had once quitted, in 
the year 735 x . 

I have already observed, and from good authorities, that many of 
these Saxon scholars were skilled in Greek. Yet scarce any consider- 
able monuments have descended to modern times, to prove their fami- 
liarity with that language. I will, however, mention such as have oc- 
curred to me. Archbishop Parker, or rather his learned scribe Jocelin, 
affirms, that the copy of Homer, and some of the other books import- 
ed into England by archbishop Theodore, as I have above related, re- 
mained in his time ^. There is however no allusion to Homer, nor any 
mention made of his name, in the writings of the Saxons now existing 2 . 
In the Bodleian library are some extracts from the books of the Pro- 
phets in Greek and Latin : the Latin is in Saxon, and the Greek in 
Latino-greek capital characters. A Latino-greek alphabet is prefixed. 
In the same manuscript is a chapter of Deuteronomy, Greek and Latin, 
but both are in Saxon characters a . In the curious and very valuable 
library of Bennet college in Cambridge is a very ancient copy of Ald- 
helm DE LAUDE VIRGINITATIS. In it is inserted a specimen of Saxon 
poetry full of Latin and Greek words, and at the end of the manuscript 
some Runic letters occur b . I suspect that their Grecian literature was 
a matter of ostentation rather than use. William of Malmesbury, in his 
Life of Aldhelm, censures an affectation in the writers of this age; that 
they were fond of introducing in their Latin compositions a difficult 
and abstruse word latinised from the Greek . There are many in- 
stances of this pedantry in the early charters of Dugdale's Monasti- 
con. But it is no where more visible than in the LIFE of Saint WIL- 
FRID, archbishop of Canterbury, written by Fridegode a monk of Can- 
terbury, in Latin heroics, about the year 960 d . Malmesbury observes 
of this author's style, " Latinitatem perosus, Grcecitatem amat, Grcecula 

w W. Malmesb. ut supr. Apud Whart. ginal. [Who has seen the original ? 

P- 8. DOUCE.] 

* Cave, ubi supr. p. 473. Saec. Eico- a NE. D. 19. MSS.membr. 8vo.fol. 24. 

nocl. 19. 

y Antiquitat. Brit. p. 80. b Cod. MSS. K 12. 

z See Sect.iii. page 128. of this volume, Ubi supr. p. 7. 

where it is observed, that Homer is cited d Printed by Mabillon, Saec. Benedic- 

by Geoffrey of Monmouth. But he is tin. iii. P. i. p. 169. 
not mentioned in Geoffrey's Armoric ori- 


verba frequentat 6 ." Probably to be able to read Greek at this time 
was esteemed a knowledge of that language. Eginhart relates, that 
Charlemagne could speak Latin as fluently as his native Prankish ; but 
slightly passes over his accomplishment in Greek by artfully saying, 
that he understood it better than he could pronounce it f . Nor, by the 
way, was Charlemagne's boasted facility in the Latin so remarkable a 
prodigy. The Latin language was familiar to the Gauls when they 
were conquered by the Franks ; for they were a province of the Ro- 
man empire till the year 485. It was the language of their religious 
offices, their laws, and public transactions. The Franks, who conquer- 
ed the Gauls at the period just mentioned, still continued this usage, 
imagining there was a superior dignity in the language of imperial 
Rome ; although this incorporation of the Franks with the Gauls greatly 
corrupted the latinity of the latter, and had given it a strong tincture 
of barbarity before the reign of Charlemagne . But while we are bring- 
ing proofs which tend to extenuate the notion that Greek was now 
much known or cultivated, it must not be dissembled, that John Eri 
gena, a native of Aire in Scotland, and one of King Alfred's first lec- 
turers at Oxford *, translated into Latin from the Greek original four 
large treatises of Dionysius the Areopagite, about the year 860 h . This 
translation, which is dedicated to Charles the Bald, abounds with Greek 
phraseology, and is hardly intelligible to a mere Latin reader. He also 
translated into Latin the Scholia of Saint Maximus on the difficult 
passages of Gregory Nazianzen*. He frequently visited his munificent 
patron Charles the Bald, and is said to have taken a long journey to 
Athens, and to have spent many years in studying not only the Greek 
but the Arabic and Chaldee languages 11 . 

As to classic authors, it appears that not many of them were known 
or studied by our Saxon ancestors. Those with which they were most 
acquainted, either in prose or verse, seem to have been of the lower 
empire; writers who, in the declension of taste, had superseded the 

Gest. Pontific. i. f. 114. Epistles. Hoveden and Matthew Paris 

f Vit. Car. Magn. p. 30. have literally transcribed the words of 

8 Wood, Hist. Antiquit. Univ. Oxon. i. Malmesbury just cited, and much more. 

15. Hov. fol. 234; and M. Paris, p. 253. It 

h This translation, with dedications in is doubtful whether the Versio Moralium 

verse and prose to Charles the Bald, oc- Aristotelis is from the Greek ; it might 

curs twice in the Bodleian library, viz. be from the Arabic : or whether ovir au- 

MSS. Mus. 148. and Hyper. Bodl. 148. thor's. See Prsefat. Op. nonnull. Oxon. 

p. 4. seq. See also Laud. I. 59. And in edit, per Gale, cum Not. 1681. fol. 
Saint John's college Oxford, A. xi. 2. 3. l Printed at Oxford as above. Erigena 

William of Malmesbury says, that he wrote died at Malmesbury, where he had opened 

a book entitled, Periphismerisnms, (that a school in the year 883. Cave, Hist. Lit. 

is, Ilepi Qvaews juepio-juou,) and adds, that Saec. Phot. pp. 548, 549. William of 

in this piece " a Latinorum tramite de- Malmesbury says, that Erigena was one 

viavit, dum in Grsecos acriter oculos in- of the wits of Charles the Bald's table, 

tendit." Vit. Aldhelm. p. 28. Wharton, and his constant companion. Ubi supr. 

Angl. Sacr. ii. It was printed at Oxford p. 27. 

by Gale. Erigena, in one of the dedica- k Spelm. Vit. yElfred. Bale xiv. 32. 

tions above mentioned, says, that he had Pits. p. 168. 
translated into Latin ten of Dionysius's 


purer and more ancient Roman models, and had been therefore more 
recently and frequently transcribed. I have mentioned Alfred's trans- 
lations of Boethius and Orosius. Prudentius was also perhaps one of 
their favorites. In the British Museum there is a manuscript copy of 
that poet's PSYCOMACHIA. It is illustrated with drawings of historical 
figures, each of which have an explanatory legend in Latin and Saxon 
letters ; the Latin in large red characters, and the Saxon in black, of 
great antiquity 1 . Prudentius is likewise in Bennet college library at 
Cambridge, transcribed in the time of Charles the Bald, with several 
Saxon words written into the text 1 ". Sedulius's hymns are in the same 
repository in Saxon characters, in a volume containing other Saxon 
manuscripts 11 . Bede says, that Aldhelm wrote his book DE VIRGINI- 
TATE, which is both prose and verse, in imitation of the mariner of 
Sedulius . We learn from Gregory of Tours, what is not foreign to 
our purpose to remark, that King Chilperic, who began to reign in 562, 
wrote two books of Latin verses in imitation of Sedulius. But it was 
without any idea of the common quantities P. A manuscript of this 
poet in the British Museum is bound up with Nennius and Felix's 
MIRACLES OF SAINT GUTHLAC, dedicated to Alfwoldking of the East 
Angles, and written both in Latin and Saxon**. But these classics 
were most of them read as books of religion and morality. Yet Ald- 
helm, in his tract DE METRORUM GENERIBUS, quotes two verses from 
the third book of Virgil's Georgics r : and in the Bodleian library we 
find a manuscript of the first book of Ovid's Art of Love, in very an- 
cient Saxon characters, accompanied with a British gloss 8 . And the 
venerable Bede, having first invoked the Trinity, thus begins a Latin 
panegyrical hymn on the miraculous virginity of Ethildryde: "Let 
Virgil sing of wars, I celebrate the gifts of peace. My verses are of 
chastity, not of the rape of the adulteress Helen. I will chant heavenly 
blessings, not the battles of miserable Troy V These however are rare 
instances. It was the most abominable heresy to have any concern 
with the pagan fictions. The graces of composition were not their ob- 
jects, and elegance found no place amidst their severer pursuits in phi- 
losophy and theology". 

1 MSS. Cott. Cleopatr. C. 8. membr. system of medicine in Saxon, often cited 

3vo. by Somner in his Lexicon, under the title 

Miscellan. MSS. M. membran. of Liber Medicinalis. It appears by this 

MSS. S. 1 1. Cod. membran. tract, that they were well acquainted with 

Eccl. Hist. 19. the Latin physicians and naturalists, Mar- 

Gregor. Turonens. 1. vi. c. 46. cellus, Scribonius Largus, Pliny, Cseiius 

MSS. Cotton. Vesp. D. xxi. 8vo. Aurelianus, Theodore, Priscus, &c. MSS. 

W. Malmesb. Vit. Aldhelm. Wharton, Bibl. Reg. Brit. Mus. Cod. membr.. ..It is 

Angl. Sacr. ii. 4. probable that this manuscript is of the age 

* NE. D. 19. membr. 8vo. fol. 37. of King Alfred. Among Hatton's books in 

Bed. Eccl. Hist. iv. 20. the Bodleian library is a Saxon manu- 

Medicine was one of their favorite script which has been entitled by Junius 

sciences, being a part of the Arabian learn- Medicina ex Quadrupedibus. It is pre- 

iug. We have now remaining Saxon ma- tended to be taken from Idpart, a fabu- 

nuscript translations of Apuleius De Viri- lous king of Egypt. It is followed by two 

busllerbarum. They have also left a large epistles in Latin of Evax king of the Ara- 


It is certain that literature was at its height among our Saxon ances- 
tors about the eighth century. These happy beginnings were almost 
entirely owing to the attention of King Alfred, who encouraged learn- 
ing by his own example, by founding seminaries of instruction, and by 
rewarding the labours of scholars. But the efforts of this pious mon- 
arch were soon blasted by the supineness of his successors, the incur- 
sions of the Danes, and the distraction of national affairs. Bede, from 
the establishment of learned bishops in every diocese, and the universal 
tranquillity which reigned over all the provinces of England, when he 
finished his ecclesiastical history, flatters his imagination in anticipating 
the most advantageous consequences, and triumphantly closes his nar- 
rative with this pleasing presentiment. The Picts, at this period, were 
at peace with the Saxons or English, and converted to Christianity. 
The Scots lived contented within their own boundary. The Britons 
or Welsh, from a natural enmity, and a dislike to the catholic institu- 
tion of keeping Easter, sometimes attempted to disturb the national 
repose ; but they were in some measure subservient to the Saxons. 
Among the Northumbrians, both the nobility and private persons rather 
chose their children should receive the monastic tonsure, than be trained 
to arms x . 

But a long night of confusion and gross ignorance succeeded. The 
principal productions of the most eminent monasteries for three centu- 
ries were incredible legends which discovered no marks of invention, 
un edify ing homilies, and trite expositions of the Scriptures. Many 
bishops and abbots began to consider learning as pernicious to true 
piety, and confounded illiberal ignorance with Christian simplicity. 
Leland frequently laments the loss of libraries destroyed in the Danish 

bians to Tiberius Cesar, concerning the Oedip. Egypt, torn. iii. p. 68. Lambeccius 
names and virtues of oriental precious describes a very curious and ancient ma- 
stones used in medicine. Cod. Hatton. 100. nuscript of Dioscorides : among the beau- 
membr. fol. It is believed to be a manu- tiful illuminations with which it was en- 
script before the Conquest. These ideas riched, was a square picture with a gold 
of a king of Egypt, another of Arabia, and ground, on which were represented the 
of the use of oriental precious stones in the seven ancient physicians, Machaon, CHI- 
medical art, evidently betray their origin. RON, Niger, Herculides, Mantias, Xeno- 
Apuleius's Herbarium occurs in the Bri- crates, and Pamphilus. P. Lambecc. de 
tish Museum in Latin and Saxon, " quod Bibl. Vindob. lib. ii. p. 525 seq. I have 
accepit ab Esculapio et a Chirone Centauro mentioned above, Medicina ex Quadrupe- 
Magistro A chillis ; " together with the dibus. A Greek poem or fragment called 
Medicina ex Quadrupedibus above men- Medicina ex Piscibus has been attributed 
tioned. MSS.Cot.Vitel.C.iii. Cod.membr. to Chiron. It was written by Marcellus 
fol. iii. p. 19. iv. p. 75. It is remarkable Sidetas of Pamphylia, a physician under 
that the Arabians attribute the invention Marcus Antoninus, and is printed by 
of Simia, one of their magical sciences, to Fabricius, Bibl. Gr. i. p. 16 seq.; and see 
Kirun or Carun, that is, Chiron the cen- xiii. p. 317. The Medicina ex Quadru- 
taur, the master of Achilles. SeeHerbelot. pedibus seems to be the treatise entitled, 
Diet. Orient. Artie. SIMIA, p. 1005. Medicina ex Animalibus, under the name 
The Greeks reputed Chiron the inventor of Sextus Platonicus, and printed in Ste- 
of medicine. His medical books are men- phens's Medica Artis Principes, p. 684. 
tioned by many ancient writers, particu- This was a favorite medical system of the 
larly by Apuleius Celsus, De Herbis : and dark ages. See Fabric, ibid. xiii. 395. 
Kircher observes, that Chiron's treatise of xii. 613. 
Mulomedicina was familiar to the Arabians. * Bede, Eccl. Hist. v. 23. 


invasions?. Some slight attempts were made for restoring literary pur- 
suits, but with little success. In the tenth century, Oswald archbishop 
of York, finding the monasteries of his province extremely ignorant not 
only in the common elements of grammar, but even in the canonical 
rules of their respective orders, was obliged to send into France for 
competent masters, who might remedy these evils 2 . In the mean time, 
from perpetual commotions, the manners of the people had degenerated 
from that mildness which a short interval of peace and letters had in- 
troduced, and the national character had contracted an air of rudeness 
and ferocity. 

England at length, in the beginning of the eleventh century, received 
from the Normans the rudiments of that cultivation which it has pre- 
served to the present times. The Normans were a people who had 
acquired ideas of splendour and refinement from their residence in 
France ; and the gallantries of their feudal system introduced new 
magnificence and elegance among our rough unpolished ancestors. 
The Conqueror's army was composed of the flower of the Norman no- 
bility ; who sharing allotments of land in different parts of the new 
territory, diffused a general knowledge of various improvements en- 
tirely unknown in the most flourishing eras of the Saxon government, 
and gave a more liberal turn to the manners even of the provincial in- 
habitants. That they brought with them the arts, may yet be seen by 
the castles and churches which they built on a more extensive and 
stately plan a . Literature, in particular, the chief object of our present 
research, which had long been reduced to the most abject condition, 
appeared with new lustre in consequence of this important revo- 

Towards the close of the tenth century, an event took place, which 
gave a new and very fortunate turn to the state of letters in France 
and Italy. A little before that time, there were no schools in Europe 
but those which belonged to the monasteries or episcopal churches ; 
and the monks were almost the only masters employed to educate the 
youth in the principles of sacred and profane erudition. But at the 
commencement of the eleventh century, many learned persons of the 
laity, as well as of the clergy, undertook in the most capital cities of 
France and Italy this important charge. The Latin versions of the 
Greek philosophers from the Arabic had now become so frequent and 

y SeeMalmesb. apudLel. Coll.i. p. 140. rical, on Castles, Churches, Monasteries, 

edit. nup. and other Monuments of Antiquity in va- 

* Wharton, Angl. Sacr. ii. 201. Many rious Parts of England. To which will 

evidences of the ignorance which prevailed be prefixed, The History of Architecture 

in other countries during the tenth cen- in England. 

tury have been collected by Muratori, An- [This production, which Mr. Price of 

tiquit. Ital. Med. JEv. iii. 831. ii. 141 ; and the Bodleian library affirms to have been 

Boulay, Hist. Acad. Paris, i. 288. written out fairly for the press, has not 

a This point will be further illustrated been discovered among the papers of Mr. 

in a work now preparing for the press, Warton, though the prima stamina were 

entitled, Observations Critical and Histo- found in a crude state. PARK.] 


common as to fall into the hands of the people ; and many of these 
new preceptors having travelled into Spain with a design of studying 
in the Arabic schools b , and comprehending in their course of instruc- 
tion more numerous and useful branches of science than the monastic 
teachers were acquainted with, communicated their knowledge in a 
better method, and taught in a much more full, perspicuous, solid, and 
rational manner. These and other beneficial effects, arising from this 
practice of admitting others besides ecclesiastics to the profession of 
letters, and the education of youth, were imported into England by 
means of the Norman conquest. 

The Conqueror himself patronised and loved letters. He filled the 
bishopricks and abbacies of England with the most learned of his 
countrymen, who had been educated at the university of Paris, at that 
time the most flourishing school in Europe. He placed Lanfranc, ab- 
bot of the monastery of Saint Stephen at Caen, in the see of Canter- 
bury ; an eminent master of logic, the subtleties of which he employed 
with great dexterity in a famous controversy concerning the real pre- 
sence. Anselm, an acute metaphysician and theologist, his immediate 
successor in the same see, was called from the government of the ab- 
bey of Bee in Normandy. Herman, a Norman bishop of Salisbury, 
founded a noble library in the ancient cathedral of that see c . Many 
of the Norman prelates preferred in England by the Conqueror were 
polite scholars. Godfrey, prior of Saint Swithin's at Winchester, a na- 
tive of Cambray, was an elegant Latin epigrammatist, and wrote with 
the smartness and ease of Martial d ; a circumstance which, by the way, 

b This fashion continued for a long time. printed, is an eulogy on Walkelin bishop 

Among many who might here be men- of Winchester, and a Norman, who built 

tioned was Daniel Merlac, an Englishman, great part of his stately cathedral, as it 

who in the year 1185 went to Toledo to now stands, and was bishop there during 

learn mathematics, and brought back with Godfrey's priorate, viz. 

him into England several books of the Consili virtutis am facundia comi 
Arabian philosophy. Wood Antiq. Univ. WALCH ELINE pater, fixa fuere tibi. 

^"Nobilem'bibliothecam, comparatis ^^J' ' "^ d CUmenta 
in hoc optimis juxta ac antiquissimis il- J| l } ^ u 

lustrium autonim monumentis Seven* peg ^ ^^ ^ . .^ f 

r^inoo ? ^ ftf !/ J?? Portans invalidos, qui cecidere levans. 

died 1099, He was so fond of let ten, that Divit .. g domi ^ , a hor fi 

he did not disdain to bind and illuminate D fid , d fi f . Jbi & 

bpoks. Mon. Angl. in. p. 375. Vid. supr. 

The old church of Salisbury stood within Among the Epigrams, the following is not 

the area of that noble ancient military cited by Camden : 

work called Old-castle. Leland says, that p auca Titug ioga dab ^ viHa , 

he finished the church which his prede- Ut u / h b d T 

cessor Herman had begun, and filled its tug 

chapter with eminent scholars. 

d Camden has cited several of his epi- These pieces are in the Bodleian library, 

grams. Remains, p. 421. edit. 1674. I MSS. Digb. 112. The whole collection 

ha*ve read all his pieces now remaining. is certainly worthy of publication ; I do 

The chief of them are, "Proverbia, et Epi- not mean merely as a curiosity. Leland 

grammata Satyrica." " Carmina Histo- mentions his epistles " familiari illo et 

rica, de Rege Canuto, Regina Emma" &c. DULCI stylo editae." Script. Brit. p. 159. 

Among these last, none of which were ever Godfrey died 1107. He was made prior of 


shows that the literature of the monks at this period was of a more 
liberal cast than that which we commonly annex to their character and 
profession. Geoffrey, a learned Norman, was invited from the univer- 
s^ty of Paris to superintend the direction of the school of the priory of 
Dunstable, where he composed a play called the Play of SAINT CATHA- 
RINE 6 , which was acted by his scholars. This was perhaps the first 
spectacle of the kind that was ever attempted, and the first trace of 
theatrical representation which appeared in England. Matthew Paris*, 
who first records this anecdote, says, that Geoffrey borrowed copes 
from the sacrist of the neighbouring abbey of Saint Alban's to dress 
his characters. He was afterwards elected abbot of that opulent mona- 

The king himself gave no small countenance to the clergy, in send- 
ing his son Henry Beauclerc to the abbey of Abingdon, where he was 
initiated in the sciences under the care of the abbot Grimbald, and 
Faritius a physician of Oxford. -Robert d'Oilly, constable of Oxford 
castle, was ordered to pay for the board of the young prince in the 
convent, which the king himself frequently visited s. Nor was William 
wanting in giving ample revenues to learning : he founded the magni- 
ficent abbeys of Battel and Selby, with other smaller convents. His 
nobles and their successors co-operated with this liberal spirit in erect- 
ing many monasteries. Herbert de Losinga, a monk of Normandy, 
bishop of Thetford in Norfolk, instituted and endowed with large pos- 
sessions a Benedictine abbey at Norwich, consisting of sixty monks. 
To mention no more instances, such great institutions of persons dedi- 
cated to religious and literary leisure, while they diffused an air of 
civility, and softened the manners of the people in their respective cir- 
cles, must have afforded powerful invitations to studious pursuits, and 
have consequently added no small degree of stability to the interests 
of learning. 

By these observations, and others which have occurred in the course 
of our inquiries concerning the utility of monasteries, I certainly do 
not mean to defend the monastic system. We are apt to pass a gene- 
ral and undistinguishing censure on the monks, and to suppose their 
foundations to have been the retreats of illiterate indolence at every 

Winchester. A.D. 1082. Wharton, Angl. rine; for the decoration of which he bor- 

Sacr. i. 324. He was interred in the old rowed copes from St. Alban's : but that on 

chapter-house, whose area now makes the following night his house together with 

part of the dean's garden. the copes and all his books was burned. 

See infr. vol. ii. Sect. vi. p. 18. Nothing is mentioned about the priory of 

[Mr. Warton has here most strangely Dunstaple, which was not founded before 

misquoted Matthew Paris. This writer 1131, long after Abbot Richard's death; 

says, that Geoffrey was sent for by Ri- immediately upon which Geoffrey was 

chard abbot of St. Alban's, to superintend elected abbot of St. Alban's. DOUCE.} 

the school there ; but arriving too late, the ' Vit. Abbat. ad calc. Hist. p. 56. edit, 

school was given to another person; that 1639. See also Bui. Hist. Acad. 'Paris. 

Geoffrey still expecting the office, esta- ii. 225. 

blished himself at Dunstaple, where he Hist. Antiq. Univ. Oxon. i. 46. 
composed the miracle play of St. Catha- 


period of time. But it should be remembered, that our universities 
about the time of the Norman conquest, were in a low condition ; while 
the monasteries contained ample endowments and accommodations, and 
were the only respectable seminaries of literature. A few centuries af- 
terwards, as our universities began to flourish, in consequence of the 
distinctions and honours which they conferred on scholars, the esta- 
blishment of colleges, the introduction of new systems of science, the 
universal ardour which prevailed of breeding almost all persons to let- 
ters, and the abolition of that exclusive right of teaching which the ec- 
clesiastics had so long claimed ; the monasteries of course grew inat- 
tentive to studies, which were more strongly encouraged, more commo- 
diously pursued, and more successfully cultivated, in other places ; they 
gradually became contemptible and unfashionable as nurseries of learn- 
ing, and their fraternities degenerated into sloth and ignorance. The 
most eminent scholars which England produced, both in philosophy 
and humanity, before and even below the twelfth century, were edu- 
cated in our religious houses. The encouragement given in the English 
monasteries for transcribing books, the scarcity of which in the middle 
ages we have before remarked, was very considerable. In every great 
abbey there was an apartment called the SCRIPTORIUM ; where many 
writers were constantly busied in transcribing not only the service-books 
for the choir, but books for the library 11 . The Scriptorium of Saint 
Alban's abbey was built by abbot Paulin, a Norman, who ordered many 
volumes to be written there, about the year 1080. Archbishop Lan- 
franc furnished the copies'. Estates were often granted for the sup- 
port of the Scriptorium. That at Saint Edmondsbury was endowed 
with two mills k . The tythes of a rectory were appropriated to the ca- 
thedral convent of Saint Swithin at Winchester, ad libros transcribendos, 
in the year 1171 * Many instances of this species of benefaction occur 
from the tenth century. Nigel, in the year 1160, gave the monks of 
Ely two churches, ad libros faciendos. This employment appears to 
have been diligently practised at Croyland, for Ingulphus relates, that 
when the library of that convent was burnt in the year 1091, seven 

h This was also a practice in the monas- * Mat. Paris, p. 1003. See Leland, 

teries abroad, in which the boys and no- Script. Brit. p. 166. 

vices were chiefly employed. But the k Registr. Nigr. S. Edmund. Abbat. 

missals and bibles were ordered to be fol. 228. 

written by monks of mature age and dis- J Registr. Joh. Pontissar. episcop. Wint. 
cretion. Du Fresne, Gloss. Lat. Med. V. f. 164. MS. See Mon. Angl. i. 131. He- 
SCRIPTORIUM; and Praefat. f. vi. edit. ming. Chartul. per Hearne, p. 265. Corn- 
prim. See also Monast. Anglic, ii. 726. pare also Godwin, de Praesul. p. 121. edit, 
and references in the windows of the li- 1616. 

brary of Saint Alban's abbey. Ibid. 183. m Wharton, Angl. Sacr. i. p. 619. See 
At the foundation of Winchester college, also, p. 634, and 278. Hearne has pub- 
one or more transcribers were hired and lished a grant from R. De Paston to Brom- 
employed by the founder to make books holm abbey in Norfolk, of I2d. per annum, 
for the library. They transcribed and a rent-charge on his lands, to keep their 
took their commons within the college, as books in repair, ad emendacionem libro- 
appears by computations of expenses on rum. Ad. Domerham, Num. iii. 
their account now remaining. 

VOL. I. h 



hundred volumes were consumed 11 . Fifty-eight volumes were trans- 
cribed at Glastonbury, during the government of one abbot, about the 
year 1300. And in the library of this monastery, the richest in Eng- 
land, there were upwards of four hundred volumes in the year 1248 p . 
More than eighty books were thus transcribed for Saint Alban's abbey, 
by abbot Wethamstede, who died about 14401. Some of these in- 
stances are rather below our period ; but they illustrate the subject, and 
are properly connected with those of more ancient date. I find some of 
the classics written in the English monasteries very early. Henry, a 
Benedictine monk of Hyde-abbey, near Winchester, transcribed in the 
year 1178 Terence, Boethius r , Suetonius 8 , and Claudian. Of these he 
formed one book, illuminating the initials, and forming the brazen bosses 
of the covers with his own hands*. But this abbot had more devotion 
than taste ; for he exchanged this manuscript a few years afterwards for 
four missals, the Legend of Saint Christopher, and Saint Gregory's 
PASTORAL CARE, with the prior of the neighbouring cathedral con- 
vent u . Benedict, abbot of Peterborough, author of the Latin chroni- 
cle of king Henry the Second, amongst a great variety of scholastic 
and theological treatises, transcribed Seneca's epistles and tragedies w , 
Terence, Martial x , and Claudian, to which I will add GESTA ALEXAN- 

Hist. Croyland. Dec. Script, p. 98. 

Tanner, Not. Mon. edit. 8vo. Pref. 

See Joann. Glaston. ut infr. And 
Le and, Script. Brit. p. 131. 

Weaver, Fun. Mon. p. 566. 

It is observable, that Boethius in his 
metres constantly follows Seneca's trage- 
dies. I believe there is not one form of 
verse in Boethius but what is taken from 

9 Suetonius is frequently cited by the 
writers of the middle ages, particularly 
by Vincentius Bellovacensis, Specul. Hist, 
lib. x. c. 67. and Rabanus Maurus, Art. 
Gram. Op. torn. i. p. 46. Lupus, abbot of 
Ferrieres, about the year 838, a learned 
philosophical writer, educated under Ra- 
banus Maurus, desires abbot Marquard to 
send him Suetonius, On the Cctsars, " in 
duos nee magnos codices divisum." Epi- 
stol. Lup. Ferrariens. xcix. apud Andr. Du 
Chesne, Script. Rer. Franc, torn. ii. p. 726. 
Isidorus Hispalensis, a bishop of the se- 
venth century, gives the origin of poetry 
from Suetonius, Origin, viii. 7. Chaucer's 
tale of Nero in the Monke's Tale is taken 
from Suetonius, " as tellith us Suetonius." 
v. 491. p. 164. edit. Urr. 

1 " Suis manibus apices literarum arti- 
ficiose pinxit et illuminavit, necnon aereos 
umbones in tegminibus appinxit." MS. 
Registr. Priorat. S. Swithin. Winton. 

Quatern In archiv. Wulves. Many 

of the monks were skilful illuminators. 
They were also taught to bind books. In 
the year 1277, these constitutions were 

given to the Benedictine monasteries of 
the province of Canterbury : " Abbates 
monachos suos claustrales, loco operis ma- 
nualis, secundum suam habilitatem caete- 
ris occupationibus deputent : in studendo, 
libros scribendo, corrigendo, illuminando, 
ligando." Capit. Gen. Ord. Benedictin. 
Provinc. Cant. 1277. apud MSS. Br. 
Twyne, 8vo. p. 272. archiv. Oxon. 

u Ibid. 

w Nicholas Antonius says, that Nicholas 
Franeth, a Dominican, illustrated Seneca's 
tragedies with a gloss, soon after the year 
1300. Bibl. Vet. Hispan. apud Fabric. 
Bibl. Lat. lib. ii. c. 9. He means Nicho- 
las Trivet, an English Dominican, author 
of the Annals published by Anthony Hall. 

* John of Salisbury calls Martial Cocns, 
Policrat. vi. 3. as do several writers of 
the middle ages. Martial is cited by Je- 
rom of Padua, a Latin poet and physician, 
who flourished about the year 1300. See 
Christian. Daumii Not. ad Catonis Distich, 
p. 140. One of the two famous manu- 
scripts of Terence in the Vatican, is said 
to have been written in the time, perhaps 
under the encouragement, of Charle- 
magne ; and to have been compared with 
the more antient copies by Calliopius 
Scholasticus. Fontanin. Vindic. Antiquit. 
Diplomat, p. 37. Scholasticus means a 
master in the ecclesiastical schools. En- 
gelbert, abbot of Trevoux, a writer of the 
tenth century, mentions Terentius Poeta, 
but in such a manner as shews he had but 
little or no knowledge of him. He con- 



, about the year 1180 Z . In a catalogue of the books 8 of the li- 
brary of Glastonbury we find Livy b , Sallust c , Seneca, Tully DE SENEC- 
TUTE and AMiciTiA d , Virgil, Persius*, and Claudian, in the year 1248. 
Among the royal manuscripts of the British Museum, is one of the 
twelve books of Statius's Thebaid, supposed to have been written in 
the tenth century, which once belonged to the cathedral convent of 
Rochester 6 ; and another of Virgil's Eneid, written in the thirteenth, 
which came from the library of Saint Austin's at Canterbury f . Wal- 
lingford, abbot of Saint Alban's, gave or sold from the library of that 
monastery to Richard of Bury, bishop of Durham, author of the PHI- 
LOB FBLION, and a great collector of books, Terence, Virgil, Quintilian, 
and Jerom against Rufinus, together with thirty-two other volumes 
valued at fifty-two pounds of silver . The scarcity of parchment un- 

founds this poet with Terentius the Ro- 
man senator, whom Scipio delivered from 
prison at Carthage, and brought to Rome. 
Bibl. Patr. torn. xxv. edit. Lugd. p. 370. 

y See Sect. iii. p. 132. of this volume. 

z Swaffham, Hist. Caenob. Burg. ii. p. 
97. per Jos. Sparke. " Epistolae Senecse 
cum aliis Senecis in uno volumine, Mar- 
tialis totus et Terentius in uno volumine," 
&c. Sub Tit. De Libris ejus. He died 
in 1193. In the library of Peterborough 
abbey, at the Dissolution, there were one 
thousand and seven hundred books in ma- 
nuscript. Gunton's Peterb. p. 173. 

a See Chron. Joh. Glaston.edit. Hearne, 
Oxon. 1726, viz. Numerus Librorum Glas- 
toniensis ecclesite quifuerunt de LIBRARIA 
anno grades M.CC.XL.VH. p. 423. Leland, 
who visited all the monasteries just before 
their dissolution, seems to have been 
struck with the venerable air and ampli- 
tude of this room. Script. Brit. p. 196. 
See what is said of the monastery libraries 

b It is pretended, that Gregory the 
Great, in the year 580, ordered all the 
manuscripts of Livy to be burnt which 
could be found, as a writer who enforced 
the doctrine of prodigies. By the way, 
Livy himself often insinuates his disbelief 
of those superstitions. He studies to re- 
late the most ridiculous portents ; and he 
only meant, when it came in his way, to 
record the credulity of the people, not to 
propagate a belief of such absurdities. It 
was the superstition of the people, not of 
the historian. Antonio Beccatelli is said 
to have purchased of Poggius a beautiful 
manuscript of Livy, for which he gave the 
latter a large field, in the year 1455. Gal- 
laes. De Bibliothecis, p. 186. See Liron, 
Singularites Hist, et Litt. torn. i. p. 166. 

Fabricius mentions two manuscripts 
of Sallust, one written in the year 1178, 
and the other in the year 900. Bibl. Lat. 

1. i. c. 9. Sallust is cited by a Byzantine 
writer, Joannes Antiochenus, of an early 
century. Excerpt. Peiresc. p. 393. Mr. 
Hume says, that Sallust's larger history 
is cited by Fitz-Stephens, in his descrip- 
tion of London. Hist. Engl. ii. 440. 4to. 

d Paulus Jovius says, that Poggius, 
about the year 1420, first brought Tully's 
books De Finibus and De Legibus into 
Italy, transcribed by himself from other 
manuscripts. Voss. Hist. Lat. p. 550. 
About the same time, Brutus, de Claris 
Oratoribus, and some of the rhetorical 
pieces, with a complete copy of De Ora- 
tore, were discovered and circulated by 
Flavius Blondus, and his friends. Flav. 
Blond. Ital. Illustrat. p. 346. Leland says, 
that William Selling, a monk of Canter- 
bury, about 1480, bi ought with him from 
Italy Cicero's book De Republica, but that 
it was burnt with other manuscripts. 
Script. Brit. CELLINQUS. 

* [A fine MS. of Persius, with a copious 
Latin gloss, was given to the cathedral 
church of Exeter, by Bishop Leofric, in 
1050. It is now preserved in the Bodleian 
library. M.] 

c 15 C. x. 1. * 15 B. vi. 

Vit. Abbat. S. Albani. Brit. Mus. 
MSS. Cotton. Claud, E. iv. In the royal 
manuscripts in John of Salisbury's Enten- 
ticus, there is written, " Hunc librum fe- 
cit dominus Symon abbas S. Albani : quem 
postea venditum domino Ricardo de Bury, 
episcopo Dunelmensi, emit Michael abbas 
S. Albani ab executoribus praedicti epi- 
scopi, A.D. 1345." MSS. 13 D. iv. 3. 
Richard de Bury, otherwise called Richard 
Aungervylle, is said to have alone pos- 
sessed more books than all the Bishops of 
England together. Besides the fixed li- 
braries which he had formed in his seve- 
ral palaces, the floor of his common apart- 
ment was so covered with books, that 

h 2 



doubtedly prevented the transcription of many other books in these 
societies. About the year 1120, one master Hugh, being appointed 
by the convent of Saint Edmondsbury in Suffolk to write and illuminate 
a grand copy of the Bible for their library, could procure no parch- 
ment for this purpose in England h . 

In consequence of the taste for letters and liberal studies introduced 
by the Normans, many of the monks became almost as good critics as 
catholics ; and not only in France, but in England, a great variety of 
Latin writers, who studied the elegances of style, and the arts of clas- 
sical composition, appeared soon after the Norman conquest. A view 

those who entered could not with due re- 
verence approach his presence. Gul. 
Chambre, Contin. Hist. Dunelm. apud 
Whart. Angl. Sacr. i. 765. He kept bind- 
ers, illuminators, and writers in his pa- 
laces. " Antiquariorum, scriptorum, cor- 
rectorum, colligatorum, illuminatorum," 
&c. Philobibl. cap. viii. p. 34. edit. 1599. 
Petrarch says that he had once a conver- 
sation with Aungervylle, concerning the 
island called by the antients Thule, whom 
he calls Virum. ardentis ingenii, Petrarch, 
Epist. i. 3. His book entitled PHILOBIB- 
BibliothecfE, supposed to be really written 
by Robert Holcott, a Dominican friar, was 
finished in his manor of Auckland, A.D. 
1343. He founded a library at Oxford: 
and it is remarkable, that in the book 
above mentioned, he apologises for admit- 
ting the poets into his collection. " Quare 
non negleximus FABULAS POETARUM." 
Cap. xiii. p. 43. xviii. p. 57. xix. 58. But 
he is more complaisant to the prejudices 
of his age, where he says, that the laity 
are unworthy to be admitted to any com- 
merce with books. " Laid omnium libra- 
rum communione sunt indigni.." Cap. xvii. 
p. 55. He prefers books of the liberal arts 
to treatises in law. Cap. xi. p. 41. He 
laments that good literature had entirely 
ceased in the university of Paris. Cap. ix. 
p. 38. He admits Panfletos exiguos into 
his library. Cap. viii. 30. He employed 
Stationarios and Libraries, not only in 
England, but in France, Italy, and Ger- 
many. Cap. x. p. 34. He regrets the to- 
tal ignorance of the Greek language; but 
adds, that he has provided for the students 
of his library both Greek and Hebrew 
grammars. Ibid, p, 40. He calls Paris the 
paradise of the world, and says, that he 
purchased there a variety of invaluable 
volumes in all sciences, which yet were 
neglected and perishing. Cap. viii. p. 31. 
While chancellor and treasurer of Eng- 
land, instead of the usual presents and 
new-year's gifts appendant to his office, 
he chose to receive those perquisites in 
books. By the favour of Edward the Third 

he gained access to the libraries of the 
most capital monasteries ; where he shook 
off the dust from volumes preserved in 
chests and presses which had not been 
opened for many ages. Ibid. 29, 30. [An 
English translation of the Philobiblion by 
Mr. Inglis was published in 8vo. 1832. 

[To this note it may be added from Bp. 
Godwin, (Cat. of Eng. Bishops, 1601. p. 
524-5) as has been suggested by Mr. Dib- 
din, (Bibliom. 1 81 1. p. 248.) that De Bury 
was the son of Sir Richard Angaruill, 
knt. ; that he said of himself " exstatico 
quodam librorum amove potenter se abrcp- 
tum " that he was mightily carried away, 
and even beside himself, with immoderate 
love of books and desire of reading. He 
had always in his house many chaplains, 
all great scholars. His manner was at 
dinner and supper-time to have some good 
book read to him, whereof he would dis- 
course with his chaplains a great part of 
the day following, if business interrupted 
not his course. He was very bountiful 
unto the poor: weekly he bestowed for 
their relief 8 quarters of wheat made into 
bread, beside the offal and fragments of 
his tables. Riding between Newcastle 
and Durham, he would give 81. in alms ; 
and from Durham to Stockton 51., &c. 
He bequeathed a valuable library of MSS. 
to Durham, now Trinity college, Oxford ; 
and upon the completion of the room to 
receive them, they were put into pews or 
studies, and chained to them. See Gutch's 
edit, of Wood's Hist, of the Univ. of Oxf. 
ii. 911. PARK.] 

h Monast. Angl. i. p. 200. In the great 
revenue-roll of one year of John Gerveys, 
bishop of Winchester, I find expended 
"in parcheamento empto ad rotulos, vs." 
This was a considerable sum for such a 
commodity in the year 1266. But as the 
quantity or number of the rolls is not spe- 
cified, no precise conclusion can be drawn. 
Comp MS. membran. in archiv. Wulves. 
Winton. Compare Anderson, Comm. i. 
153, sub ann, 1313, 


of the writers of this class who flourished in England for the two sub- 
sequent centuries, till the restless spirit of novelty brought on an at- 
tention to other studies, necessarily follows from what has been ad- 
vanced, and naturally forms the conclusion of our present investigation. 
Soon after the accession of the Conqueror, John, commonly called 
Joannes Grammaticus, having studied polite literature at Paris, which 
not only from the Norman connection, but from the credit of its pro- 
fessors, became the fashionable university of our countrymen, was em- 
ployed in educating the sons of the Norman and English nobility *. He 
wrote an explanation of Ovid's Metamorphoses k , and a treatise on the 
art of metre or versification 1 . Among the manuscripts of the library 
of New College in Oxford, I have seen a book of Latin poetry, and 
many pieces in Greek, attributed to this writer 10 . He flourished about 
the year 1070. In the reign of Henry the First, Laurence, prior of the 
church of Durham, wrote nine books of Latin elegies. But Leland, 
who had read all his works, prefers his compositions in oratory ; and 
adds, that for an improvement in rhetoric and eloquence, he frequently 
exercised his talents in framing Latin defences on dubious cases which 
occurred among his friends. He likewise, amongst a variety of other 
elaborate pieces on saints, confessors, and holy virgins, in which he 
humoured the times and his profession, composed a critical treatise on 
the method of writing Epistles, which appears to have been a favourite 
subject". He died in 1154. About the same time, Robert Dunstable, 
a monk of Saint Alban's, wrote an elegant Latin poem in elegiac verse, 
containing two books P, on the life of Saint Alban^. The first book is 
opened thus : 

Albani celebrem ccelo terrisque triumphum 
Ruminat inculto carmine Clio rudis. 

We are not to expect Leonine rhymes in these writers, which became 
fashionable some years afterwards 1 ". Their verses are of a higher cast, 

1 See Bale, iv. 40. the university of Paris : " Parisiana jubar 

k Integumenta super Ovidii Metamor- diffundit gloria clerus." He likewise 

phoses. MSS. Bibl. Bodl. sup. A 1. Art. wrote Compendium Grammatices. 

86. where it is given to Johannes Gual- m MSS. Bibl. Coll. Nov. Oxon. 236, 

lensis, a Franciscan friar of Oxford, and 237. But these are said to belong to Jo- 

afterwards a student at Paris. It is also annes Philoponus. See Phot. Bibl. Cod. 

MSS. Digb. 104. fol. 323. The same piece Ixxv. Cave, p. 441. edit. 1. 

is extant under the name of this latter n See what is said of John Hanvill 

John, entitled, Expositiones sive Morali- below. 

tates in Lib. 1. Melamorphoseos sive Fa- Lei. Script. Brit. p. 204, 205. 

b2ilarum, fyc. Printed at Paris 1599. But p It is a long poem, containing thirteen 

this Johannes Guallensis seems to have hundred and sixty lines, 

been chiefly a philosopher and theologist. q In the British Museum, MSS. Cott. 

He flourished about A.D. 1250. Alex- Jul. D. iii. 2. Claud. E. 4. There are 

under Necham wrote in Metamorphosin more of his Latin poems on sacred sub- 

Ovidii. Tann. Bibl. p. 540. jects in the British Museum. But most 

1 Another title of this piece is, Poetria of them are of an inferior composition, 

magna Johannis Anglici, &c. Cantabr. and, as I suppose, of another hand. 

MSS. More, 121. It is both in prose and r Leonine verses are said to have been 

verse. He begins with this panegyric on invented and first used by a French monk 



and have a classical turn. The following line, which begins the second 
book, is remarkably flowing and harmonious, and much in the manner 
of Claudian : 

Pieridum studiis claustri laxare rigorem. 

Smoothness of versification was an excellence which, like their Saxon 
predecessors, they studied to a fault. Henry of Huntingdon, commonly 
known and celebrated as an historian, was likewise a terse and polite 
Latin poet of this period. He was educated under Alcuine of Anjou, 
a canon of Lincoln cathedral. His principal patrons were Aldwin and 
Reginald, both Normans, and abbots of Ramsey. His turn for poetry 
did not hinder his arriving to the dignity of an archdeacon. Leland 
mentions eight books of his epigrams, amatorial verses 8 , and poems on 

of Saint Victor at Marseilles, named Leo- 
ninus, or Leonine, about the year 1135. 
Pasquier, Recherch. de la France, vii. 2. 
p. 596. 3. p. 600. It is however certain, 
that rhymed Latin verses were in use 
much earlier. I have before observed, 
that the Schola Salernitana was published 
1 100. See Massieu, Hist. Fr. Poes. p. 77. 
Fauchet, Rec. p. 52. 76. seq. And I have 
seen a Latin poem of four hundred lines, 
" Moysis Mutii Bergomatis de rebus Ber- 
gomensibus, Justiniani hujus nominis se- 
cundi Byzantii Imperatoris jussu con- 
scriptum, anno a salute nostra 707." The 
author was the emperor's scribe or secret- 
ary. It begins thus : 
Alme Deus, rector qui mundi regna gu- 

Nee sinis absque modo sedes fluitare su- 


It is at the end of "Achillis Mutii thea- 
trum. Bergomi, typis Gemini Venturac, 
1596." Pelloutier has given a very early 
specimen of Latin Rhymes, Mem. sur 
la Lang. Celt, part i. vol. i. ch. xii. p. 20. 
He quotes the writer of the Life of St. 
Faron, who relates, that Clotarius the 
Second, having conquered the Saxons in 
the beginning of the seventh century, 
commanded a Latin panegyrical song to 
be composed on that occasion, which was 
sung all over France. It is somewhat in 
the measure of their vernacular poetry, at 
that time made to be sung to the harp, 
and begins with this stanza : 
De Clotario est canere rege Francorum 
Qui Ivit pugnare cum gente Saxonum, 
Quam graviter provenisset missis Saxo- 
Si non fuisset inclitus Faro de gente Bur- 


Latin rhymes seem to have been first used 
in the church-hymns. But Leonine verses 
are properly the Roman hexameters or 
pentameters rhymed ; and it is not im- 

probable that they took their name from 
the monk above mentioned, who was the 
most popular and almost only Latin poet 
of his time in France. He wrote many 
Latin pieces not in rhyme, and in a good 
style of Latin versification ; particularly 
a Latin heroic poem in twelve books, 
containing the history of the Bible from 
the creation of the world to the story of 
Ruth : also some elegies, which have a 
tolerable degree of classic purity. Some 
suppose that pope Leo the Second, about 
the year 680, a great reformer of the 
chants and hymns of the church, invented 
this sort of verse. 

It is remarkable that Bede, who lived 
in the eighth century, in his book De 
Arte Metrica, does not seem to have 
known that rhyme was a common orna- 
ment of the church-hymns of his time, 
many of which he quotes. See Opp. 
torn. i. 34. cap. penult. But this chapter, 
I think, is all taken from Marius Victo- 
rinus, a much older writer. The hymns 
which Bede quotes are extremely bar- 
barous, consisting of a modulated struc- 
ture, or a certain number of feet without 
quantity, like the odes of the minstrels 
or scalds of that age. " Ut sunt," he 
says, " carmina VULGARIUM POETARUM." 
In the mean time we must not forget, that 
the early French troubadours mention a 
sort of rhyme in their vernacular poetry 
partly distinguished from the common 
species, which they call Leonine or Leo- 
nime. Thus Gualtier Arbalestrier de 
Belle-perche, in the beginning of his ro- 
mance of Judas Maccabeus, written before 
the year 1280, 

Je ne di pas k' aucun biau dit 
Ni mette par faire la ryme 
Ou consonante ou leonime. 

But enough has been said on a subject of 
so little importance. 

* See Wharton, Angl. Sacr. ii. 29. 


philosophical subjects*. The proem to his book DE HERBIS, has this 
elegant invocation : 

Vatum magne parens, herbarum Phoebe repertor, 
Vosque, quibus resonant Tempe jocosa, deae! 

Si mihi serta prius hedera florente parastis, 
Ecce meos flores, serta parate, fero. 

But Leland appears to have been most pleased with Henry's poetical 
epistle to Elfleda, the daughter of Alfred u . In the Bodleian library, 
is a manuscript Latin poem of this writer, on the death of king Ste- 
phen, and the arrival of Henry the Second in England, which is by no 
means contemptible w . He occurs as a witness to the charter of the 
monastery of Sautree in the year 1147 X . Geoffrey of Monmouth was 
bishop of Saint Asaph in the year 1152?. He was indefatigable in his 
inquiries after British antiquity ; and was patronised and assisted in 
this pursuit by Walter, archdeacon of Oxford, a diligent antiquarian, 
and Alexander, bishop of Lincoln z . His credulity as an historian has 
been deservedly censured: but fabulous histories were then the fashion, 
and he well knew the recommendation his work would receive from 
comprehending all the popular traditions a . His latinity rises far above 
mediocrity, and his Latin poem on Merlin is much applauded by Le- 

We must not judge of the general state of society by the more in- 
genious and dignified churchmen of this period; who seem to have sur- 
passed by the most disproportionate degrees in point of knowledge, all 
other members of the community. Thomas of Becket, who belongs to 
the twelfth century, and his friends, in their epistles, distinguish each 
other by the appellation of philosophers, in the course of their corre- 
spondence . By the present diffusion of literature, even those who are 
illiterate are yet so intelligent as to stand more on a level with men 
of professed science and knowledge ; but the learned ecclesiastics of 
those times, as is evident from many passages in their writings, appear, 
and not without reason, to have considered the rest of the world as 
totally immersed in ignorance and barbarity. A most distinguished 

1 Lei. Script. Brit. p. 197. the expense of the Hon. and Rev. Neville 

u Ut supr. Grenville, under the care of W. H. Black, 

w MSS. Digb. 65. fol. 27. His writings who wrote a Preface which was subse- 

are numerous, and of various kinds. In quently cancelled, and the analysis of 

Trinity college library at Oxford there is a George Ellis, (in his Spec, of Metrical Ro- 

fine copy of his book De Imagine Mundi. mances, i. 76. ed. 1811.) substituted in its 

MSS. Cod. 64. pergamen, This is a very place. A new edition of this poem, col- 

common manuscript. lated with other MSS. is now in the press 

x Wharton, Angl. Sacr. ii. 872. at Paris, to be edited by Mr. T. Wright 

y Wharton, Eccles. Assav. p. 306. and M. Francisque Michel. M.] 

T Leland, Script. Brit. p. 190. c See Quadrilog. Vit. T. Becket, 

* See Sect. iii. page 128 of this volume. Bruxell. 1682. 4to. And Concil. Mag. 

b In the British Museum, MSS. Cott Brit, et Hib. torn. i. p. 441. Many of 

Tit. A. xix. Vespas. E. iv. [It was print- these epistles are still in manuscript. 

ed for the Roxburghe Club, in 1830, at 


ornament of this age was John of Salisbury b . His style has a remark- 
able elegance and energy. His POLICUATICON is an extremely plea- 
sant miscellany; replete with erudition, and a judgment of men and 
things, which properly belongs to a more sensible and reflecting period. 
His familiar acquaintance with the classics appears not only from the 
happy facility of his language, but from the many citations of the pu- 
rest Roman authors with which his works are perpetually interspersed. 
Montfaucon asserts, that some parts of the supplement to Petronius, 
published as a genuine and valuable discovery a few years ago, but 
since supposed to be spurious, are quoted in the POLICRATICON C . He 
was an illustrious rival of Peter of Blois, and the friend of many learn- 
ed foreigners d . I have not seen any specimens of his Latin poetry e ; 
but an able judge has pronounced, that nothing can be more easy, 
finished, and flowing than his verses f . He was promoted to high sta- 
tions in the church by Henry the Second, whose court was crowded 
with scholars, and almost equalled that of his cotemporary William 
king of Sicily, in the splendour which it derived from encouraging eru- 
dition, and assembling the learned of various countries &. Eadmer was 
a monk of Canterbury, and endeared by the brilliancy of his genius, 
and the variety of his literature, to Anselm, archbishop of that see h . 
He was an elegant writer of history, but exceeded in the artifices of 
composition, and the choice of matter, by his cotemporary William of 
Malmesbury. The latter was a monk of Malmesbury, and it reflects 
no small honour on his fraternity that they elected him their librarian'. 
His merits as an historian have been justly displayed and recommend- 

b " Studuit in Italia omnium bonarum is a William of Blois, cotemporary with 

artium facile post Graeciam parente." Le- Peter and his brother, whom I mention 

land, Script. Brit. p. 207. But he like- here, as he appears to have written what 

wise spent some time at Oxford. Policrat. were called Comoedice et Tragoedice, and 

v i- 22. to have been preferred to an abbacy in 

c Bibl. MSS. There is an allusion to Sicily. [See Sect. vi. inf. vol. ii. p. 17.] 

the Policraticon in the Roman de la Rose, Peter mentions this William in his Epi- 
stles, " Illud nobile ingenium fratris mei 

EtverrasenPoMCRATiQUE.-v.7058. magistri Gulielmi, quandoque in scri- 

J Lei. ibid. bendis Comrediis et Tragoediis quadam 

e Except the Fable of the belly and occupationeservilidegenerans,"&c. Epist. 

members in long and short. Fabric. Med. Ixxvi. And again to the said William, 

JfLv. iv. p. 877. " Nomen vestrum diuturniore memoria 

r Lei. ut supr. p. 207. quam quatuor abbatise commendabile red- 

g See Leland, Script. Brit. p. 210. dent Tragredia vestra de Flaura et Marco, 

Henry the Second sent Gualterus, styled versus de Pulice et Musca. Comcedia 

Anglicus, his chaplain, into Sicily, to in- vestra de 4lda," &c. Epist. xciii. 
struct William king of Sicily in literature. h Leland, Script. Brit. p. 178. There 

William was so pleased with his master, is a poem De Laudibus Anselmi, and 

that he made him archbishop of Palermo. an epicedion on that prelate, commonly 

Bale, xiii. 73. He died in 1177. Peter ascribed to Eadmer. See Fabr. Bibl. Med.' 

of Blois was Gualter's coadjutor; and he Lat. ii. p. 210. seq. Leland doubts whe- 

tells us, that he taught William the ru- ther these pieces belong to him or William 

diments " versijicatoria artis et litera- of Chester, a learned monk, patronised by 

tori*,' Epist. Petr. Blesens. ad Gualt. Anselm. Script. Brit. p. 185. 
Pitts mentions a piece of Gualterus De > Lei. p. 195. But see Wharton, Angl. 

Latince rudimentis, p. 141. There Sacr. ii. Praef. p. xii. 


ed by lord Lyttelton k . But his abilities were not confined to prose. 
He wrote many pieces of Latin poetry ; and it is remarkable, that al- 
most all the professed writers in prose of this age made experiments 
in verse. His patron was Robert earl of Glocester ; who, amidst the 
violent civil commotions which disquieted the reign of King Stephen, 
found leisure and opportunity to protect arid promote literary merit 1 . 
Till Malmesbury's works appeared, Bede had been the chief and prin- 
cipal writer of English history. But a general spirit of writing history, 
owing to that curiosity which more polished manners introduce to an 
acquaintance with the ancient historians, and to the improved know- 
ledge of a language in which facts could be recorded with grace and 
dignity, was now prevailing. Besides those I have mentioned, Simeon 
of Durham, Roger Hoveden, and Benedict abbot of Peterborough, are 
historians whose narratives have a liberal cast, and whose details rise 
far above the dull uninteresting precision of patient annalists and re- 
gular chronologers. John Hanvill, a monk of Saint Alban's, about the 
year 1190, studied rhetoric at Paris, and was distinguished for his taste 
even among the numerous and polite scholars of that flourishing semi- 
nary 111 . His ARCHITRENIUS is a learned, ingenious, and very enter- 
taining performance. It is a long 'Latin poem in nine books, dedicated 
to Walter bishop of Rouen. The design of the work may be partly 
conjectured from its affected Greek title ; but it is, on the whole, a mix- 
ture of satire and panegyric on public vice and virtue, with some histo- 
rical digressions. In the exordium is the following nervous and spirit- 
ed address : 

Tu CyrrhaB latices nostrae, deus, implue menti ; 
Eloquii rorem siccis infunde labellis : 
Distillaque favos, quos nondum pallidus auro 
Scit Tagus, aut sitiens admotis Tantalus undis : 
Dirige quae timide suscepit dextera, dextram 
Audacem pavidamque juva : Tu mentis habenas 
Fervoremque rege, &c. 

In the fifth book the poet has the following allusions to the fables of 
Corineus, Brutus, king Arthur, and the population of Britain from 
Troy. He seems to have copied these traditions from Geoffrey of 

Tamen Architrenius instat, 

Et genus et gentem quaerit studiosius : illi 
Tros genus, et gentem tribuit Lodonesia, nutrix 
Praebuit irriguam morum Cornubia mammam, 

k In his History of Henry the Second. tish Museum the name is given in En- 

1 See Cave, Hist. Lit. p. 661. glish, John of Higham. W.] 

m Lei. p. 259. [The name should be n See Hist. Galfrid. Mon. i. xi. xvi. 

spelt Ha?jvill, and not Hawvill : in Latin xvii. &c. 

it is de Alta villa. In a MS. in the Bri- 


Post odium fati, Phrygiis inventa : Smaraudus 

Hanc domitor raundi Tyrinthius, alter Achilles, 

Atridaeque timor Corinaeus, serra gygantum, 

Clavaque monstrifera, sociae delegit alumnam 

Omnigenam Trojae, pluvioque fluviflua lacte 

Filius exilio fessae dedit ubera matri. 

A quo dicta prius Corineia, dicitur aucto 

Tempore corrupte Cornubia nominis haeres. 

Ille gygantaeos attritis ossibus artus 

Iraplicuit letho, Tyrrheni littoris hospes, 

Indoinita virtute gygas ; non corpore mole 

Ad medium pressa, nee membris densior sequo, 

Sarcina terrifica tumuit Titania mente. 

Ad Ligeris ripas Aquitanos fudit, et amnes 

Francorum patuit lacrymis, et caede vadoque 

Sanguinis ense ruens, satiavit rura, togaque 

Punicea vestivit agros populique verendi 

Grandiloquos fregit animosa cuspide fastus. 

Integra, nee dubio bellorum naufraga fluctu, 

Nee vice suspecta titubanti saucia fato, 

Indilata dedit subitam victoria laurum. 

Inde dato cursu, Bruto comitatus Achate, 

Gallorum spolio cumulatus, navibus aequor 

Exarat, et superis auraque faventibus utens, 

Litora felices intrat Tolonesia portus : 

Promissumque soli gremium monstrante Diana, 

Incolumi census loculum ferit Albion alno. 

Haec eadem Bruto regnante Britannia nomen 

Traxit in hoc tempus : solis Titan ibus ilia, 

Sed paucis, habitata domus ; quibus uda ferarum 

Terga dabant vestes, cruor haustus pocula, trunci 

Antra lares, dumeta toros, caenacula rupes, 

Praeda cibos, raptus venerem, spectacula caedes, 

Imperium vires, animum furor, impetus arma, 

Mortem pugna, sepulchra rubus : monstrisque gemebat 

Monticolis tellus : sed eorum plurima tractus 

Pars erat occidui terror; majorque premebat 

Te furor extremum zephyri, Cornubia, limen. 

Hos avidum belli Corinsei robur Averno 

Praecipites misit ; cubitis ter quatuor altum 

Gogmagog Herculea suspendit in aere lucta, 

Anthaeumque suum scopulo demisit in aequor: 

Potavitque dato Thetis ebria sanguine fluctus, 

Divisumque tulit mare corpus, Cerberus umbram. 

Nobilis a Phrygiae tanto Cornubia gentem 

Sanguine derivat, successio cujus lulus 


In generis partem recipit complexa Pelasgam 
Anchisaeque domum : ramos hinc Pandrasus, inde 
Sylvius extendit, socioque a sidere sidus 
Plenius effundit triplicatae lampadis ignes. 
Hoc trifido solo Corinaei postera mundum 
Praeradiat pubes, quartique puerpera Phcebi 
Pullulat Arthurum, facie dura falsus adulter 
Tintagel irrumpit, nee amoris Pendragon aestu 
Vincit, et omnificas Merlini consulit artes, 
Mentiturque ducis habitus, et rege latente 
Induit absentis praesentia Gorlois ora. 

There is a false glare of expression, and no great justness of sentiment, 
in these verses ; but they are animated, and flow in a strain of poetry. 
They are pompous and sonorous ; but these faults have been reckoned 
beauties even in polished ages. In the same book our author thus 
characterises the different merits of the satires of Horace and Persius: 

Persius in Flacci pelago decurrit, et audet 
Mendicasse stylum satyrae, serraque cruentus 
Rodit, et ignorat polientem pectora limam.P 

In the third book he describes the happy parsimony of the Cistercian 

monks : 

O sancta, o felix, albis galeata cucullis, 
Libera paupertas! Nudo jejunia pastu 
Tracta diu solvens, nee corruptura palatum 
Mollitie mensae. Bacchus convivia nullo 
Murmure conturbat, nee sacra cubilia mentis 
Inquinat adventu. Stomacho languente ministrat 
Solennes epulas ventris gravis hospita Thetis, 
Et paleis armata Ceres. Si tertia menses 
Copia succedat, truncantur oluscula, quorum 

Milton appears to have been much See also Milton's Mansus, v. 80. 

struck with this part of the ancient Bri- p Juvenal is also cited by John of Sa- 

tish History, and to have designed it for lisbury, Peter of Blois, Vincentius Bel- 

the subject of an epic poem. Epitaph. lovacensis, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and 

Damonis, v. 162. other writers of the middle ages. They 

often call him Ethicus. See particularly 

Ipse ego Dardanias Rutupina per sequora Petr. Bles. Epistola Ixxvii. Some lines 

puppes from Juvenal are cited by Honorius Au- 

Dicam, et Pandrasidos regnum vetus gustodunus, a priest of Burgundy, who 

Inogenise, wrote about 1300, in his De Philosophia 

Brennumque Arviragumque duces, pris- Mundi, Praefat. ad lib. iv. The tenth sa- 

cumque Belinum, tire of Juvenal is quoted by Chaucer in 

Et tandem Armoricos Britonum sub lege Troilus and Cresseide, b. iv. v. 197. pag. 

colonos : 307. edit. Urr. There is an old Italian 

Turn gravidam Arturo, fatali fraude, metaphrase of Juvenal done in 1475, and 

logernen, published soon afterwards, by Georgio 

Mendaces vultus, assumptaque Gorlois Summaripa, of Verona. Giornale de Let- 

arma, terati d'ltalia, torn. viii. p. 41. Juvenal 

Merlini dolus. was printed at Rome as early as 1474. 


Offendit macies oculos, pacemque meretur, 
Deterretque famem pallenti sobria cultu.^ 

Among Digby's manuscripts in the Bodleian library, are Hanvill's La- 
tin epigrams, epistles, and smaller poems, many of which have consider- 
able merit 1 ". They are followed by a metrical tract, entitled DE EPI- 
STOLARUM COMPOSITIONE. But this piece is written in rhyme, and 
seems to be posterior to the age, at least inferior to the genius, of Han- 
vill. He was buried in the abbey church of Saint Alban's, soon after 
the year 1200 s . Gyraldus Cambrensis deserves particular regard for 
the universality of his works, many of which are written with some 
degree of elegance. He abounds with quotations of the best Latin 
poets. He was an historian, an antiquarian, a topographer, a divine, a 
philosopher, and a poet. His love of science was so great, that he re- 
fused two bishopricks; and from the midst of public business, with 
which his political talents gave him a considerable connection in the 
court of Richard the First, he retired to Lincoln for seven years, with 
a design of pursuing theological studies 1 . He recited his book on the 
topography of Ireland in public at Oxford, for three days successively- 
On the first day of his recital he entertained all the poor of the city ; 
on the second, all the doctors in the several faculties, and scholars of 
better note ; and on the third, the whole body of students, with the 
citizens and soldiers of the garrison 11 . It is probable that this was a 
ceremony practised on the like occasion in the university of Paris w ; 

q There are two manuscripts of this Oseney abbey, near the suburbs of Oxford, 

poem, from which I transcribe, in the At which time many Italians studying at 

Bodleian library. MSS. Digb. 64. and Oxford were admitted in that faculty. 

157. One of these has a gloss, but not Wood, ubi supr. p. 25. col. 1. It appears 

that of Hugo Legatus, mentioned by that the mayor and citizens of Oxford 

Baillet, Jugem. Sav. iv. p. 257. edit. 4to. were constantly invited to these solemni- 

This poem is said to have been printed ties. In the year 1400, two monks of the 

at Paris 1517. 4to. Bibl. Thuan. torn. ii. priory of Christ Church in Canterbury 

p. 286. This edition I have never seen, were severally admitted to the degree of 

and believe it to be an extremely scarce doctor in divinity and civil law at Oxford, 

book. The expences were paid by their mona- 

r Cod. Digb. 64. ut supr. stery, and amounted to 1 1 8/. 3s. 8d. Registr. 

* Bale, iii. 49. Priorat. pergamen. MSS. Tanner, Oxon. 

* Wharton, Angl. Sacr. ii. 374. Num. 165. fol. 212 a. Among other ar- 
u Wood, Hist. Antiq. Univ. Oxon. i. 56. tides there is, " In solutione facta HISTRI 
w But Wood insinuates, that this sump- ONIBUS." fol. 213 a. [See Sect. ii. pages 

tuous entertainment was partly given by 82 et seq. in this volume.] At length these 
Gyraldus, as an inceptor in the arts. Ubi scholastic banquets grew to such excess, 
supr. p. 25. col. 1. Which practice I have that it was ordered in the year 1434,thatno 
mentioned, vol. ii. Sect. ix. p. 89. note g . inceptor in arts should expend more than 
infr. And I will here add other instances, " 3000 grosses Turonenses." Vet. Stat. See 
especially as they are proofs of the esti- Leland, Coll. P. ii. torn. i. p. 296, 297. edit, 
mation in which letters, at least literary 1770. But the limitation was a consider- 
honours, were held. In the year 1268, able sum. Each is somewhat less than an 
the inceptors in civil law at Oxford were English groat. Notwithstanding, Neville, 
so numerous, and attended by such a afterwards archbishop of York, on his ad- 
number of guests, that the academical mission to the degree of master of arts in 
houses or hostels were not sufficient for 1452, feasted the academics and many 
their accommodation ; and the company strangers for two successive days, at two 
filled not only these, but even the refec- entertainments, consisting of nine hundred 
tory, cloisters, and many apartments of costly dishes. Wood, ibid. 219. col. 1. 2. 


where Giraldus had studied for twenty years, and where he had been 
elected professor of canon law in the year 1189 X . His account of 
Wales was written in consequence of the observations he made on that 
country, then almost unknown to the English, during his attendance 
on an archi episcopal visitation. I cannot resist the pleasure of tran- 
scribing from this book his picture of the romantic situation of the 
abbey of Lantony in Monmouthshire. I will give it in English, as my 
meaning is merely to show how great a master the author was of that 
selection of circumstances which forms an agreeable description, and 
which could only flow from a cultivated mind. " In the deep vale of 
Ewias, which is about a bowshot over, and enclosed on all sides with 
high mountains, stands the abbey church of Saint John, a structure 
covered with lead, and not unhandsomely built for so lonesome a situ- 
ation ; on the very spot, where formerly stood a small chapel dedicated 
to Saint David, which had no other ornaments than green moss and 
ivy. It is a situation fit for the exercise of religion ; and a religious 
edifice was first founded in this sequestered retreat to the honour of a 
solitary life, by two hermits, remote from the noise of the world, upon 
the banks of the river Hondy, which winds through the midst of the 
valley. The rains which mountainous countries usually produce, are 
here very frequent, the winds exceedingly tempestuous, and the win- 
ters almost continually dark. Yet the air of the valley is so happily 
tempered, as scarcely to be the cause of any diseases. The monks sit- 
ting in the cloisters of the abbey, when they chuse for a momentary 
refreshment to cast their eyes abroad, have on every side a pleasing 
prospect of mountains ascending to an immense height, with numerous 
herds of wild deer feeding aloft on the highest extremity of this lofty 
horizon. The body of the sun is not visible above the hills till after 
the meridian hour, even when the air is most clear." Giraldus adds, 
that Roger bishop of Salisbury, prime minister to Henry the First, 
having visited this place, on his return to court told the king, that all 
the treasure of his majesty's kingdom would not suffice to build such 
another cloister. The bishop explained himself by saying, that he 
meant the circular ridge of mountains with which the vale of Ewias 
was enclosed y. Alexander Neckham was the friend, the associate, and 
the correspondent of Peter of Blois already mentioned. He received 

Nor was this reverence to learning, and four Latin verses, which were answered 

attention to its institutions, confined to by his majesty. The eight towers were 

the circle of our universities. Such was those of Merton, Magdalene, and New 

the pedantry of the times, that in the year College, and of the monasteries of Oseney, 

1503, archbishop Wareham, chancellor of Rewley, the Dominican, Augustine, and 

Oxford, at his feast of inlhronisation, or- Franciscan friars, which five last are now 

dered to be introduced in the first course utterly destroyed. Wood, ubi supr. lib. i. 

a curious dish, in which were exhibited p. 239. col. i. Compare Robertson's Charles 

the eight towers of the university. In V. i. 323. seq. 

every tower stood a bedell; and under the x "Wharton, ibid. 

towers were figures of the king, to whom y Girald. Cambrens. I tin. Cambr. Lib. 

the chancellor Wareham, encircled with i. c. 3. p. 89. seq. Lond. 1585. 12mo. 
many doctors properly habited, presented 


the first part of his education in the abbey of Saint Alban's, which he 
afterwards completed at Paris 2 . His compositions are various, and 
crowd the department of manuscripts in our public libraries. He has 
left numerous treatises of divinity, philosophy, and morality: but he 
was likewise a poet, a philologist, and a grammarian. He wrote a tract 
on the mythology of the ancient poets, Esopian fables, and a system of 
grammar and rhetoric. I have seen his elegiac poem on the monastic 
life a , which contains some finished lines. But his capital piece of Latin 
poetry is On the Praise of DIVINE WISDOM, which consists of seven 
books. In the introduction he commemorates the innocent and unre- 
turning pleasures of his early days, which he passed among the learned 
monks of Saint Alban's, in these perspicuous and unaffected elegiacs : 


Martyris Albani sit tibi tuta quies. 
Hie locus aetatis nostrae primordia riovit, 

Annos felices, laetitiaeque dies. 
Hie locus ingenuis pueriles imbuit annos 

Artibus, et riostrse laudis origo fuit. 
Hie locus insignes magnosque creavit alumnos, 

Felix eximio martyre, gente, situ. 
Militat hie Christo, noctuque dieque labori 

Indulget sancto religiosa cohors. b 

Neckham died abbot of Cirencester in the year 1217 C - He was much 
attached to the studious repose of the monastic profession, yet he fre- 
quently travelled into Italy d . Walter Mapes, archdeacon of Oxford, 
has been very happily styled the Ariacreon of the eleventh [twelfth] 
century 6 . He studied at Paris f . His vein was chiefly festive and 
satirical &: and as his wit was frequently levelled against the corruptions 
of the clergy, his poems often appeared under fictitious names, or have 
been ascribed to others h . The celebrated drinking ode 1 of this genial 
archdeacon has the regular returns of the monkish rhyme : but they 
are here applied with a characteristical propriety, are so happily in- 

* Lei. Script. Brit. p. 240. seq. > See Camden's Remains, page 436. 

a Bibl. Bodl. MSS. Digb. 65. f. 18. RYTHMI. 

[There is a good manuscript of this poem [After all that has been said about this 

in the Brit. Mus. MS. Reg. 8 A.,xxi. W.j celebrated song, it turns out upon exami- 

b Apud Lei. Script. Brit. p. 240. nation to be no song at all, but part of a 

c Willis, Mitr. Abb. i. 61, 62. somewhat longer poem, in which the 

d Lei. ibid. stanzas which have been thus arranged to 

e Lord Lyttelton's Hist. Hen. II. Not. make a drinking song, do not even stand 

B. ii. p. 133. 4to. together. The poem is found in the MS. 

f See Sect. ii. pp. 59, 60. note , in this Harl. 2851, under the title of Guliardus 

volume. de vite sue mutacione. It is a MS. of the 

8 Tanner, Bibl. p. 507. 13th century. It must, however, have 

h Cave, Hist. Lit. p. 706. Compare been formed into a song at an early pe- 

Tanner, Bibl. 351.507. In return, many riod, for among the English songs in the 

pieces went under the name of our author ; Sloane MS. No. 2593, written apparently 

as, for instance, De Thetide et de Lyceo, very early in the 15th century, is found a 

which is a ridiculous piece of scurrility. Latin parody upon it. W "1 

MSS. Bibl. Bodl. Digb. 166. f. 104. 


vented, and so humourously introduced, that they not only suit the 
genius but heighten the spirit of the piece k . He boasts that good wine 
inspires him to sing verses equal to those of Ovid. In another Latin 
ode of the same kind, he attacks with great liveliness the new injunc- 
tion of pope Innocent, concerning the celibacy of the clergy ; and hopes 
that every married priest with his bride, will say a pater noster for the 
soul of one who had thus hazarded his salvation in their defence. 

Ecce jam pro clericis multum allegavi, 
Necnon pro presbyteris plura comprobavi : 
PATER NOSTER nunc pro me, quoniarn peccavi, 
Dicat quisque Presbyter, cum sua Suavi. 1 

But a miracle of this age in classical composition was Joseph of Ex- 
eter, commonly called Josephus Iscanus. He wrote two epic poems in 
Latin heroics. The first is on the Trojan war ; it is in six books, and 
dedicated to Baldwin archbishop of Canterbury" 1 . The second is en- 

k In Bibl. Bodl. a piece De Nugis Cu- 
rialium is given to Mapes. MSS. Arch. 
B. 52. It was written A.D. 1182. as ap- 
pears from Distinct, iv. cap. 1. It is in 
five books. Many Latin poems in this 
manuscript are given to Mapes ; one in 
particular, written in a flowing style, in 
short lines, preserving no fixed metrical 
rule, which seems to have been intended 
for singing. In another manuscript I find 
various pieces of Latin poetry, by some 
attributed to Mapes, Bibl. Bodl. NE. F. 
iii. Some of these are in good taste. Cam- 
den has printed his Disputatio inter Cor 
et Oculum. Rem. p. 439. It is written in 
a sort of Anacreontic verse, and has some 
humour. It is in MSS. Bibl. Bodl. Digb. 
ut supr. 166. See also Camd. ibid. p. 437. 

[It appears from several of the MS. 
copies of Lancelot du Lac, Le Saint Graal, 
and other romances, that Walter de Mapes 
translated them into French prose, at the 
instance of Henry II. He also composed 
the Mort Artur at the particular desire of 
that monarch. Many of his poems remain 
in MS. (See Index to Harl. MSS.) Some 
of them have been printed in Leyser, Hist. 
Poetarum medii sevi, in Flacius de cor- 
rupto ecclesiae statu ; Basil 1557. and in 
Wolfii Lectiones memorabiles. There is 
reason to suppose that a piece entitled va- 
riously as follows, was written by him : 
" Visio lamentabilis cujusdam heremitae 
super disceptatione animse contra corpus. 
Disputatio inter corpus et animamalicu- 
jus reprobati et damnati : Conflictio inter 
corpus et animam." See Harl. MSS. 978. 
2851. Cotton MSS. Titus, A. xx. 
DOUCE.] [There is however reason to 
believe that Mapes only gave a Latin ver- 
sion of a very popular theme. See the same 

idea exemplified in a Saxon poem from 
the Exon MS. given by Mr. Conybeare 
in the Archaeologia, vol. 17. PRICE.] 

1 Camd. Rem. ut supr. 

m See lib. i. 32. It was first printed at 
Basil, but very corruptly, in the year 1541. 
8vo. under the name of Cornelius Nepos. 
The existence and name of this poem seem 
to have been utterly unknown in England 
when Leland wrote. He first met with a 
manuscript copy of it by mere accident in 
Magdalen college library at Oxford. He 
never had even heard of it before. He af- 
terwards found two more copies at Paris : 
but these were all imperfect, and without 
the name of the author, except a marginal 
hint. At length he discovered a complete 
copy of it in the library of Thorney abbey 
in Cambridgeshire, which seems to have 
ascertained the author's name, but not his 
country. Script. Brit. p. 238. The neg- 
lect of this poem among our ancestors, I 
mean in the ages which followed Iscanus, 
appears from the few manuscripts of it 
now remaining in England. Leland, who 
searched all our libraries, could find only 
two. There is at present one in the church 
of Westminster ; another in Bibl. Bodl. 
Digb. 157. That in Magdalen college is 
MSS. Cod. 50. The best edition is at the 
end of " Dictys Cretensis et Dares Phry- 
gius, in usum Sereniss. Delph. cum Inter- 
pret. A. Daceriae, &c. Amstsel. 1702." 4to. 
But all the printed copies have omitted 
passages which I find in the Digby manu- 
script. Particularly they omit, in the ad- 
dress to Baldwin, four lines after v. 32. 
lib. i. Thirteen lines, in which the poet 
alludes to his intended Antiocheis, are 
omitted before v. 962. lib. vi. Nor have 
they the verses in which he compliments 


titled ANTIOCHEIS, the War of Antioch, or the Crusade; in which his 
patron the archbishop was an actor". The poem of the Trojan war is 
founded on Dares Phrygius, a favorite fabulous historian of that time . 
The diction of this poem is generally pure, the periods round, and the 
numbers harmonious ; and on the whole, the structure of the versifica- 
tion approaches nearly to that of polished Latin poetry. The writer 
appears to have possessed no common command of poetical phraseology, 
and wanted nothing but a knowledge of the Virgilian chastity. His 
style is a mixture of Ovid, Statius, and Claudian, who seem then to 
have been the popular patterns P. But a few specimens will best illus- 
trate this criticism. He thus, in a strain of much spirit and dignity, 
addresses king Henry the Second, who was going to the holy war q , 
the intended subject of his ANTIOCHEIS. 

-Tuque, oro, tuo da, maxime, vati 

Ire iter inceptum, Trojamque aperire jacentem : 
Te sacrae assument acies, divinaque bella, 
Tune dignum majore tuba ; tune pectore toto 
Nitar, et immensum mecum spargere per orbem. r 

The tomb or mausoleum of Teuthras is feigned with a brilliancy of 
imagination and expression ; and our poet's classical ideas seem here to 
have been tinctured with the description of some magnificent oriental 
palace, which he had seen in the romances of his age. 

Regia conspicuis moles inscripta figuris 
Exceptura ducem, senis affulta columnis, 
Tollitur : electro vernat basis, arduus auro 
Ardet apex, radioque stylus candescit eburno. 

Gemmae quas littoris Indi 
Dives arena tegit, aurum quod parturit Hermus, 

Henry the Second, said by Leland to be 535. On account of the variety of his 

at the end of the fourth book, Script. Brit. matter, and the facility of his manner, 

p. 238. The truth is, these passages would none of the ancient poets are more fre- 

have betrayed their first editor's pretence quently cited in the writers of the dark 

of this poem being written by Cornelius ages than Ovid. His Fasti seems to have 

Nepos. As it is, he was obliged in the been their favorite; a work thus admirably 

address to Baldwin, to change Cantia, characterised by an ingenious French 

Kent, into Tantia; for which he substi- writer: " Les Pastes d'Ovide renferment 

tutes Pontia in the maigin, as an inge- plus d'erudition qu'aucun autre ouvrage 

nious conjecture. de 1'antiquite. C'est le chef d'ceuvre de ce 

n Leland, p. 224, 225. poete, et une espece de devotion paienne." 

The manuscript at Magdalen college, Vigneul Marville, Misc. Hist, et Lit. torn, 

mentioned by Leland, is entitled Dares ii. p. 306. A writer of the thirteenth 

Phrygius de bello Trojano. Lei. p. 236. century, De Miralilibus Roma, published 

as also MSS. Digb. supr. citat. But see by Montfaucon, calls this work Marti/ro- 

Sect. iii. p. 139. of this volume. logium Ovidii de Fastis. Montf. Diar. 

p Statius is cited in the epistles of Ste- Italic, c. xx. p. 293. 

phen of Tournay, a writer of the twelfth q Voltaire has expressed his admiration 

century. " Divinam ejus responsionem, of the happy choice of subject which Tasso 

ut Thebais ^Eneida, longe sequor, et ves- made. We here see a poet of an age much 

tigia semper adoro." He died in 1200. earlier than Tasso celebrating the same 

Epistolcf, Paris. 1611. 4to. Epist. v. p. sort of expedition. r Lib. i. 47. 


In varias vivunt species, ditique decorum 
Materie contendit opus : quod nobile ductor 
Quod clarum gessit, ars explicat, ardua pandit 
Moles, et totum reserat sculptura tyrannum.' 

He thus describes Penthesilea and Pyrrhus : 

Eminet, horrificas rapiens post terga secures, 
Virginei regina chori : non provida cultus 
Cura trahit, non forma juvat, frons aspera, vestis 
Discolor, insertumque armis irascitur aurum. 
Si visum, si verba notes, si lumina pendas, 
Nil leve, nil fractum : latet omni foemina facto. 
Obvius ultrices accendit in arma cohortes, 
Myrmidonasque suos, curru praevectus anhelo, 
Pyrrhus, &c. 

Meritosque offensus in hostes 

Arma patris, nunc ultor, habet: sed tanta recusant 
Pondera crescentes humeri, majoraque cassis 
Colla petit, breviorque manus vix colligit hastam.* 

Afterwards a Grecian leader, whose character is invective, insults Pen- 
thesilea, and her troop of heroines, with these reproaches : 

Tune sic increpitans, Pudeat, Mars, inclyte, dixit : 

En ! tua signa gerit, quin nostra effoeminat arma 

Staminibus vix apta manus. Nunc stabitis hercle 

Perjurae turres ; calathos et pensa puellas 

Plena rotant, sparguntque colos. Hoc milite Troja, 

His fidit telis. At non patiemur Achivi : 

Etsi turpe viris timidas calcare puellas, 

Ibo tamen contra. Sic ille : at virgo loquacem 

Tarda sequi sexum, velox ad praalia, solo 

Respondet jaculo ", &c. 

I will add one of his comparisons. The poet is speaking of the reluc- 
tant advances of the Trojans under their new leader Memnon, after the 
fall of Hector : 

Qualiter Hyblaei mellita pericula reges, 
Si signis iniere datis, labente tyranno 
Alterutro, viduos dant agmina stridula questus ; 
Et, subitum vix nacta ducem, metuentia vibrant 
Spicula, et imbelli remeant in praelia rostro. v 

His ANTIOCHEIS was written in the same strain, and had equal merit. 
All that remains of it is the following fragment w , in which the poet ce- 
lebrates the heroes of Britain, and particularly king Arthur : 

' Lib. iv. 451. * Lib. vi. p. 589. w Camd. Rem. p. 410. Poems. See 

u Lib. vi. 609. T Lib. vi. 19. also Camd. Brit. Leland having learned 

VOL, I. i 


Inclyta fulsit 

Posteritas ducibus tantis, tot dives alumnis, 
Tot fbecunda viris, premerent qui viribus orbem 
Et fama veteres. Hinc Constantinus adeptus 
Imperium, Romam tenuit, Byzantion auxit. 
Hinc, Senonum ductor, captiva Brennius u urbe 
Romuleas domuit flammis victricibus arces. 
Hinc et Scaeva satus, pars non obscura tumultua 
Civilis, Magnum solus qui mole soluta 
Obsedit, meliorque stetit pro Caesare murus. 
Hinc, celebri fato, felici floruit ortu, 
Flos regum Arthurus w , cujus tamen acta stupori 
Non micuere minus : totus quod in aure voluptas, 
Et populo plaudente favor x . Qusecunque? priorum 
Inspice : Pelleeum commendat fama tyrannum, 
Pagina Caesareos loquitur Romana triumphos ; 
Alciden domitis attollit gloria monstris ; 
Sed nee pinetum coryli, nee sydera solem 
Equant. Annales Graios Latiosque revolve, 
Prisca parem nescit, aequalem postera nullum 
Exhibitura dies. Reges supereminet omnes : 
Solus praeteritis melior, majorque futuris. 

Camden asserts, that Joseph accompanied king Richard the First to the 
holy land z , and was an eye-witness of that heroic monarch's exploits 
among the Saracens, which afterwards he celebrated in the ANTIOCHEIS. 
Leland mentions his love-verses and epigrams, which are long since 
perished a . He b flourished in the year 1210. 

There seems to have been a rival spirit of writing Latin heroic poems 
about this period. In France, Guillaume le Breton, or William of Bre- 
tagne, about the year 1230, wrote aL,atin heroic poem on Philip Au- 
gustus king of France, in twelve books, entitled PmLippis d . Barthius 

from the Bellum Trojan urn that Josephus * Rem. ut supr. p. 407. 

had likewise written a poem on the Cru- a Leland, ut supr. p. 239. Our bio- 

sade, searched for it in many places, but graphers mention Panegyricum in Henri- 

without success. At length he found a cum. But the notion of this poem seems 

piece of it in the library of Abingdon ab- to have taken rise from the verses on 

bey in Berkshire. " Cum excuterem pul- Henry the Second, quoted by Leland from 

verem et tineas Abbandunensis biblio- the Bellum Trojanum. He is likewise 

thecae." Ut supr. p. 238. Here he dis- said to have written in Latin verse De 

covered that Josephus was a native of Institutione Cyri. 

Exeter, which city was highly celebrated b Italy had at that time produced no 

in that fragment. writer comparable to Iscanus. 

" f. " Captiva Brennus in." c Bale, iii. 60. Compare Dresenius ad 

w From this circumstance, Pits absurd- Lectorem, prefixed to the De Bello Tro- 

ly recites the title of this poem thus, An- jano. Francof. 1620. 4to. Mr. Wise, the 

tiocheis in Regent Arthurum. Jos. Isc. late Radcliffe librarian, told me that a 

* The text seems to be corrupt in this manuscript of the Antiocheis was in the 

sentence ; or perhaps somewhat is want- library of the duke of Chandos at Canons. 

ing. I have changed favus, which is in d He wrote it at fifty-five years of age. 

Camden, into favor. y f. quemcunquc. Philipp. lib. iii. v. 381. It was first printed 


gives a prodigious character of this poem ; and affirms that the author, 
a few gallicisms excepted, has expressed the facility of Ovid with sin- 
gular happiness 6 . The versification much resembles that of Joseph Is- 
canus. He appears to have drawn a great part of his materials from 
Roger Hoveden's annals. But I am of opinion, that the PHILIPPID 
is greatly exceeded by the ALEXANDREID of Philip Gualtier de Cha- 
tillon, who flourished likewise in France, and was provost of the canons 
of Tournay, about the year 1200 f . This poem celebrates the actions 
of Alexander the Great, is founded on Quintus Curtius&, consists of 
ten books, and is dedicated to Guillerm archbishop of Rheims. To 
give the reader an opportunity of comparing Gualtier's style and man- 
ner with those of our countryman Josephus, I will transcribe a few 
specimens from a beautiful and ancient manuscript of the ALEXAN- 
DREID in the Bodleian library 11 . This is the exordium: 

Gesta ducis Macedum totum digesta per orbem, 
Quam large dispersit opes, quo milite Porum 
Vicit aut Darium ; quo principe Graecia victrix 
Risit, et a Persis rediere tributa Corinthum, 
Musa, refer. 1 

A beautiful rural scene is thus described : 

Patulis ubi frondea ramis 

Laurus odoriferas celabat crinibus herbas : 
Saepe sub hac memorant carmen sylvestre canentes 
Nympharum vidisse choros, Satyrosque procaces. 
Fons cadit a laeva, quern cespite gramen obumbrat 
Purpureo, verisque latens sub veste jocatur. 
Rivulus at lento rigat inferiora meatu 
Garrulus, et strepitu facit obsurdescere montes. 
Hie mater Cybele Zephyrum tibi, Flora, maritans, 
Pullulat, et vallem foecundat gratia fontis. 
Qualiter Alpinis spumoso vortice saxis 
Descendit Rhodanus, ubi Maximianus Eooa 
Extinxit cuneos, cum sanguinis unda meatum 
Fluminis adjuvit k . 

in Pithou's" Eleven Historians of France," 7. He prefers it to the Alexandreis men- 

Francof. 1536. fol. Next in Du Chesue, tioned below, in Not. p. 528. See Mem. 

Script. Franc, torn. v. p. 93. Paris. 1694. Lit. viii. 536. edit. 4to. 

fol. But the best edition is with Bar- f It was first printed, Argent. 1513. 8vo. 

thius's notes, Cygn. 1657. 4to. Brito says and two or three times since, 

in the Philippis, that he wrote a poem g See Sect. iii. p. 141. of this volume, 

called Karlottis, in praise of Petri Carlotti and Barth. Advers. Iii. 16. 

stii, then not fifteen years old. Philipp. h MSS. Digb. 52. 4to. 

lib. i. v. 10. This poem was never printed, ' fol. 1. a. 

and is hardly known. k fol. xiii. a. 
* In Not. p. 7. See also Adversar. xliii. 

i 2 


He excels in similes. Alexander, when a stripling, is thus compared 
to a young lion : 

Qualiter Hyrcanis cum forte leunculus arvis 

Cornibus elatos videt ire ad pabula cervos, 

Cui nondum totos descendit robur in artus, 

Nee bene firmus adhuc, nee dentibus asper aduncis, 

Palpitat, et vacuum ferit improba lingua palatum ; 

Effunditque prius animis quam dente cruorem. k 

The ALEXANDREID soon became so popular, that Henry of Gaunt, 
archdeacon of Tournay, about the year 1330, complains that this poem 
was commonly taught in the rhetorical schools, instead of Lucan 1 and 
Virgil. The learned Charpentier cites a passage from the manuscript 
statutes of the university of Tholouse, dated 1328, in which the pro- 
fessors of grammar are directed to read to their pupils " De Historiis 
Alexandri n ;" among which I include Gualtier's poem . It is quoted 
as a familiar classic "by Thomas Rodburn, a monkish chronicler, who 
wrote about the year 1420 p . An anonymous Latin poet, seemingly of 
the thirteenth century, who has left a poem on the life and miracles of 
Saint Oswald, mentions Homer, Gualtier, and Lucan, as the three 
capital heroic poets. Homer, he says, has celebrated Hercules, Gual- 
tier the son of Philip, and Lucan has sung the praises of Cesar. But, 
adds he, these heroes much less deserve to be immortalised in verse, 
than the deeds of the holy confessor Oswald. 

In nova fert animus antiquas vertere prosas 

Carmina, &c. 

Alciden hyperbolice commendat HOMERUS, 

k fol. xxi. a. lished at Paris in French in 1300. Labb. 

' Here, among many other proofs which Bibl. p. 339. 

might be given, and which will occur m See Hen. Gandav. Monasticon, c. 20. 

hereafter, is a proof ef the estimation in and Fabric. Bibl. Gr. ii. 218. Alanus de 

which Lucan was held during the middle Insulis, who died in 1202, in his poem 

ages. He is quoted by Geoffrey of Mon- called Anti-claudianus, a Latin poem of 

mouth and John of Salisbury, writers of nine books, much in the manner of Clau- 

the eleventh century. Hist. Brit. iv. 9. dian, and written in defence of divine pro- 

and Policrat. p. 215. edit. 1515. &c. &c. vidence against a passage in that poet's 

There is an anonymous Italian translation Bufinus, thus attacks the rising reputation 

of Lucan, as early as the year 1310. The of the Alexandreid: 

But the translator has so much departed ... mim 

from the original, as to form a sort of ro- 

mance of his own. He was translated n Suppl. Du Gang. Lat. Gloss, torn. H. 

into Spanish prose, Lucano poeta y histo- p. 1255. V. METRIFICATURA. By which 

riador antiquo, by MartinLasse de Orespe, barbarous word they signified the Art of 

at Antwerp, 1585. Lucan was first print- poetry, or rather the Art of writing Latin 

ed in the year 1469. and before the year verses. 

1500, there were six other editions of this See Sect. Hi. p. 132. in this volume. 

classic, whose declamatory manner ren- p Hist. Maj. Winton. apud Wharton, 

dred him very popular. He was pub- Angl. Sacr. 5. 242. 


GUALTERUS pingit torvo Philippida vultu, 
Caesareas late laudes LUCANUS adauget : 
TRES illi famam meruerunt, tresque poetas 
Auctores habuere suos, multo magis autem 
Oswaldi regis debent insignia dici/* 

I do not cite this writer as a proof of the elegant versification which 
had now become fashionable, but to show the popularity of the ALEX- 
ANDREID, at least among scholars. About the year 1206, Gunther 
a German, and a Cistercian monk of the diocese of Basil, wrote 
an heroic poem in Latin verse, entitled LIGURINUS, which is scarce 
inferior to the PHILIPPID of Guillaume le Breton, or the ALEX- 
ANDREID of Gualtier ; but not so polished and classical as the TRO- 
JAN WAR of our Josephus Iscanus. It is in ten books, and the 
subject is the war of the emperor Frederick Barbarossa against the 
Milanese in Liguria r . He had before written a Latin poem on the 
expedition of the emperor Conrade against the Saracens, and the 
recovery of the holy sepulchre at Jerusalem by Godfrey of Bulloign, 
which he called SOLYMARIUM S . The subject is much like that of the 
ANTIOCHEIS ; but which of the two pieces was written first it is diffi- 
cult to ascertain. 

q I will add some of the exordial lines 
almost immediately following, as they 
contain names, and other circumstances, 
which perhaps may lead to point out the 
age, if not the name of the author. They 
were never before printed. 

Tu quoque digneris, precor, aspirare 

Flos cleri, MARTINE, meo; qui talis es 


Abbates, qualis est patron us tuns inter 
Pontifices: hie est primas, tu primus 

eorum, &c. 
Hie per Aidanum sua munificentia mu- 


Illi promeruit, &c. 
Tuque benigne Prior, primas, et prime 

Qui cleri, Hoc ERE, rosam geris, annue 

vati, &c. 
Tuque Sacrista, sacris instans, qui jure 

SYMON, id est humilis, quo nemo benig- 

nior alter 

Abbatis praecepta sui velocius audit, 
Tardius obloquitur : qui tot mea carmina 

Scripta voluminibus, nee plura requirere 


Praeteritos laudas, praesentes dilige ver- 
sus, &c. 

The manuscript is Bibl. Bodl. A. 1. 2. B. 
(Langb. 5. p. 6.) This piece begins at 
f. 57. Other pieces precede, in Latin 

poetry: as Vita Sanctorum. T. Becket. 

f. 3. 

Qui moritur? Praesul. Cur? pro grege, &c. 

Prol pr. f. 23. 

Detineant alios Parnassi culmina, Cyr- 

Plausus, Pieridum vox, Heliconis opes. 

De partu Virginis. f. 28. b. 
Nectareum rorem terris, &c. 

S. Birinus, f. 42. 
Et pudet, et fateor, &c. 

The author of the life of Birinus says, 
he was commanded to write by Peter, 
probably Peter de Rupibus, bishop of 
Winchester. Perhapsheis Michael Blaun- 
payne. Alexander Esseby wrote lives of 
saints in Latin verse. See MSS. Hail. 
1819. 531. 

* First printed August. Vindel. 1507. 
fol. and frequently since. 

* He mentions it in his Ligurium, lib. i. 
v. 13. seq. v. 648. seq. See also Voss. 
Poet. Lat. c. vi. p. 73. It was never 
printed. Gunther wrote a prose history 
of the sack of Constantinople by Baldwin : 
the materials were taken from the mouth 
of abbot Martin, who was present at the 
siege, in 1204. It was printed by Cani- 
sius, Antiq. Lect. torn. iv. P. ii. p. 358. 
Ingolstad. 1604. 4to. Again, in a new 
edition of that compilation, Amst. 1725. 
fol. torn. iv. See also Pagi, ad A.D. 1519, 
n. xiv.. 


AVhilc this spirit of classical Latin poetry was universally prevailing, 
our countryman Geoffrey de Vinesauf, an accomplished scholar, and 
educated not only in the priory of Saint Frideswide at Oxford, but in 
the universities of France and Italy, published while at Rome a critical 
didactic poem entitled DE NOVA POETRIA S . This book is dedicated 
to pope Innocent the Third; and its intention was to recommend and 
illustrate the new and legitimate mode of versification which had lately 
begun to flourish in Europe, in opposition to the Leonine or barbarous 
species. This he compendiously styles, and by way of distinction, The 
NEW Poetry. We must not be surprised to find Horace's Art of Poetry 
entitled HORATII NOVA POETRIA, so late as the year 1389, in a cata- 
logue of the library of a monastery at Dover 1 . 

Even a knowledge of the Greek language imported from France, but 
chiefly from Italy, was now beginning to be diffused in England. I am 
inclined to think, that many Greek manuscripts found their way into 
Europe from Constantinople in the time of the Crusades : and we might 
observe, that the Italians, who seem to have been the most polished and 
intelligent people of Europe during the barbarous ages, carried on 
communications with the Greek empire as early as the reign of Charle- 
magne. Robert Grosthead, bishop of Lincoln, an universal scholar, 
and no less conversant in polite letters than the most abstruse sciences, 
cultivated and patronised the study of the Greek language. This illus- 
trious prelate, who is said to have composed almost two hundred books, 
read lectures in the school of the Franciscan friars at Oxford about the 
year 1230 W . Retranslated Dionysius the Areopagite and Damascenus 
into Latin x . He greatly facilitated the knowledge of Greek by a trans- 
lation of Suidas's Lexicon, a book in high repute among the lower 
Greeks, and at that time almost a recent compilation >'. He promoted 
John of Basingstoke to the archdeaconry of Leicester ; chiefly because 
he was a Greek scholar, and possessed many Greek manuscripts, which 
he is said to have brought from Athens into England 2 . He entertain- 

It has been often printed. I think * Leland, Script. Brit. p. 283. 

it is called in some manuscripts, De Arte y Boston of Bury says, that he trans- 

dictandi, versificandi, et transferendi. See lated the book called Suda. Catal. Script. 

Selden, Prsefat. Dec. Scriptor. p. xxxix. Eccles. Robert. Lincoln. Boston lived in 

and Selden, Op. ii. 168. He is himself the year 1410. Such was their ignorance 

no contemptible Latin poet, and is cele- at this time even of the name of this lexU 

brated by Chaucer. See Urry's edit. cographer. 

p. 468. 560. He seems to have lived about z Lei. Script. Brit. p. 266. Matthew 

1 200. Paris asserts, that he introduced into Eng- 

' Ex Matricula Monach. Monast. Dover. land a knowledge of the Greek numeral 

apud MSS. Br. Twyne, notat. 8. p. 758. letters. That historian adds, "Dequibus 

archiv. Oxon. Yet all Horace's writings figuris HOC MAXIME ADMIRANDUM, quod 

were often transcribed, and not unfamiliar, unica figura quilibet numerus repraesen- 

in the dark ages. His odes are quoted by tatur; quod non est in Latino vel in Al- 

Fitz-Stephens in his Description of Lon- gorismo." Hist. edit. Lond. 1684. p. 721. 

Hon. llabanus Maurus above mentioned He translated from Greek into Latin a 

quotes two verses from the Art of Poetry. grammar which he called Donatus Grce- 

Op. torn. ii. p. 46. edit. Colon. 1627. fol. corum. See Pegge's Life of Roger de 

Kennet, Paroch. Antiq. p. 217. Weseham, p. 46, 47. 51. andinfr, p. 281. 


ed, as a domestic in his palace, Nicholas chaplain of the abbot of Saint 
Alban's, surnamed GR^ECUS, from his uncommon proficiency in Greek ; 
and by his assistance he translated from Greek into Latin the testa- 
ments of the twelve patriarchs*. Grosthead had almost incurred the 
censure of excommunication for preferring a complaint to the pope, 
that most of the opulent benefices in England were occupied by Ita- 
lians 1 *. But this practice, although notoriously founded on the mono- 
polising and arbitrary spirit of papal imposition, and a manifest act of 
injustice to the English clergy, probably contributed to introduce many 
learned foreigners into England, and to propagate philological litera- 

Bishop Grosthead is also said to have been profoundly skilled in the 
Hebrew language . William the Conqueror permitted great numbers 
of Jews to come over from Rouen, and to settle in England about the 
year 1087 d . Their multitude soon increased, and they spread them- 
selves in vast bodies throughout most of the cities and capital towns in 
England, where they built synagogues. There were fifteen hundred at 
York about the year 1189 e . At Bury in Suffolk is a very complete 
remain of a Jewish synagogue of stone in the Norman style, large and 
magnificent. Hence it was that many of the learned English ecclesi- 

He seems to have flourished about the 
year 1230. Bacon also wrote a Greek 
grammar, in which is the following curi- 
ous passage: "Episcopus consecrans ec- 
clesiam, scribal Alphabetum Grsecum in 
pulvere cum cuspide baculi pastoralis : 
sed omnes episcopi QUI GRJECUM IGNO- 
RANT, scribant tres notas numerorum 
quae non sunt literae," &c. Gr, Gram. cap. 
ult. p. iii. MSS. Apud MSS. Br. Twyne, 
8vo. p. 649. archiv. Oxon. See what is 
said of the new translations of Aristotle, 
from the original Greek into Latin, about 
the twelfth century, infr. vol. ii. Sect. ix. 
p. 90. I believe the translators un- 
derstood very little Greek. Our country- 
man Michael Scotus was one of the first 
of them ; who was assisted by Andrew a 
Jew. Michael was astrologer to Frederick 
emperor of Germany, and appears to have 
executed his translations at Toledo in 
Spain, about the year 1220. These new 
versions were perhaps little more than 
corrections from those of the early Ara- 
bians, made under the inspection of the 
learned Spanish Saracens. To the want 
of a true knowledge of the original lan- 
guage of the ancient Greek philosophers, 
Roger Bacon attributes the slow and im- 
perfect advances of real science at this pe- 
riod. On this account their improvements 
were very inconsiderable, notwithstanding 
the appearance of erudition, and the fer- 
vour with which almost every branch of 
philosophy had been now studied in va- 

rious countries for near half a century. 
See Wood, Hist. Antiq. Univ. Oxon. i. 
120. seq. Dempster, xii. 940. Baconi Op. 
Maj. per Jebb, i. 15. ii. 8. Tanner, Bibl. 
p. 526. and MSS. Cotton. C. 5. fol. 138. 
Brit. Mus. 

A learned writer affirms, that Aristotle's 
books in the original Greek were brought 
out of the east into Europe about the year 
1 200. He is also of opinion, that during 
the crusades many Europeans, from their 
commerce with the Syrian Palestines, got 
a knowledge of Arabic ; and that import- 
ing into Europe Arabic versions of some 
parts of Aristotle's works, which they, 
found in the east, they turned them into 
Latin. These were chiefly his Ethics and 
Politics. And these NEW TRANSLATORS 
he further supposes were employed at 
their return into Europe in revising the 
old translations of other parts of Aristotle, 
made from Arabic into Latin. Euseb. 
Renaudot, De Barbar. Aristot. Versionib. 
apud Fabric. Bibl. Gr. xii. p. 248. See 
also Murator. Antiq. Ital. Med. Jv. iii. 

a See MSS. Reg. Brit. Mus, 4 D. vii. 4. 
Wood, Hist. Antiq. Univ. Oxon. i. 82. 
and M. Paris, sub anno 1242. 

b Godwin, Episc. p. 348. edit. 16 1C, 

c He is mentioned again, Sect. ii. pp. 
56. 72. of this volume. 

d Hollinsh. Chron. sub ann. p. 15 a. 

Anders. Comm. i. 93. 


astics of these times became acquainted with their books and language. 
In the reign of William Rufus, at Oxford the Jews were remarkably 
numerous, and had acquired a considerable property; and some of 
their rabbis were permitted to open a school in the university, where 
they instructed not only their own people, but many Christian students, 
in the Hebrew literature, about the year 1054 f . Within two hundred 
years after their admission or establishment by the Conqueror, they 
were banished the kingdom*. This circumstance was highly favour- 
able to the circulation of their learning in England. The suddenness 
of their dismission obliged them, for present subsistence, and other 
reasons, to sell their moveable goods of all kinds, among which were 
large quantities of rabbinical books. The monks in various parts 
availed themselves of the distribution of these treasures. At Hunting- 
don and Stamford there was a prodigious sale of their effects, containing 
immense stores of Hebrew manuscripts, which were immediately pur- 
chased by Gregory of Huntingdon, prior of the abbey of Ramsey. 
Gregory speedily became an adept in the Hebrew, by means of these 
valuable acquisitions, which he bequeathed to his monastery about the 
year 1250 h . Other members of the same convent, in consequence of 
these advantages, are said to have been equal proficients in the same 
language, soon after the death of prior Gregory ; among which were 
Robert Dodford, librarian of Ramsey, and Laurence Holbech, who 
compiled a Hebrew Lexicon 1 . At Oxford, great multitudes of their 
books fell into the hands of Roger Bacon, or were bought by his brethren 
the Franciscan friars of that university k . 

But, to return to the leading point of our inquiry, this promising 
dawn of polite letters and rational knowledge was soon obscured. The 
temporary gleam of light did not arrive to perfect day. The minds of 
scholars were diverted from these liberal studies in the rapidity of their 
career ; and the arts of composition and the ornaments of language 
were neglected, to make way for the barbarous and barren subtleties of 
scholastic divinity. The first teachers of this art, originally founded 
on that spirit of intricate and metaphysical inquiry which the Arabians 
had communicated to philosophy, and which now became almost abso- 
lutely necessary for defending the doctrines of Rome, were Peter Lom- 
bard archbishop of Paris, and the celebrated Abelard ; men whose con- 
summate abilities were rather qualified to reform the church, and to 
restore useful science, than to corrupt both, by confounding the com- 
mon sense of mankind with frivolous speculation 1 . These visionary 

f Angl. Judaic, p. 8. h Leland, Script. Brit. p. 321. and 

1 Hollinshead, ibid, sub aim. 1289. MSS. Bibl. Lambeth. Wharton, L. p. C61. 

p. 285. a. Matthew of Westminster says "Libri Prioris Gregorii de Ramesey. 

that 165 11 were banished. Flor. Hist. Prima pars Bibliotheca Hebraica," &c. 

ad an. 1290. Great numbers of Hebrew 5 Bale, iv. 41. ix. 9. Lei. ubi supr.p.452. 

rolls and charts, relating to their estates k Wood, Hist. Antiq. Univ. Oxon. i. 77. 

in England, and escheated to the king, 132. See also vol. ii. Sect. ix. p. 89. 

are now remaining in the Tower among ' They both flourished about the year 

the royal records. 1150. 


theologists never explained or illustrated any scriptural topic : on the 
contrary, they perverted the simplest expressions of the sacred text, and 
embarrassed the most evident truths of the Gospel by laboured distinc- 
tions and unintelligible solutions. From the universities of France, 
which were then filled with multitudes of English students, this admired 
species of sophistry was adopted in England, and encouraged by Lan- 
franc and Anselm, archbishops of Canterbury 01 . And so successful 
was its progress at Oxford, that before the reign of Edward the Second 
no foreign university could boast so conspicuous a catalogue of subtle 
and invincible doctors. 

Nor was the profession of the civil and canonical laws a small impe- 
diment to the propagation of those letters which humanize the mind, 
and cultivate the manners. I do not mean to deny, that the accidental 
discovery of the imperial code in the twelfth century contributed in a 
considerable degree to civilise Europe, by introducing, among other 
beneficial consequences, more legitimate ideas concerning the nature of 
government and the administration of justice, by creating a necessity of 
transferring judicial decrees from an illiterate nobility to the cognisance 
of scholars, by lessening the attachment to the military profession, and 
by giving honour and importance to civil employments ; but to suggest, 
that the mode in which this invaluable system of jurisprudence was 
studied, proved injurious to polite literature. It was no sooner revived, 
than it was received as a scholastic science, and taught by regular pro- 
fessors, in most of the universities of Europe. To be skilled in the the- 
ology of the schools was the chief and general ambition of scholars : 
but at the same time a knowledge of both the laws was become an in- 
dispensable requisite, at least an essential recommendation, for obtain- 
ing the most opulent ecclesiastical dignities. Hence it was cultivated 
with universal avidity. It became so considerable a branch of study 
in the plan of academical discipline, that twenty scholars out of seventy 
were destined to the study of the civil and canon laws, in one of the 
most ample colleges at Oxford, founded in the year 1385. And it is 
easy to conceive the pedantry with which it was pursued in these semi- 
naries during the middle ages. It was treated with the same spirit of 
idle speculation which had been carried into philosophy and theology, 
it was overwhelmed with endless commentaries which disclaimed all 
elegance of language, and served only to exercise genius, as it afforded 
materials for framing the flimsy labyrinths of casuistry. 

It was not indeed probable, that these attempts in elegant literature 
which I have mentioned should have any permanent effects. The 
change, like a sudden revolution in government, was too rapid for du- 
ration. It was moreover premature, and on that account not likely to 
be lasting. The habits of superstition and ignorance- were as yet too 

m " Baccalaureus qui legit textum (sc. A. Wood, Hist. Antiq. Univ. Oxon. i. p. 
S. Scripturse) succumbit lectori SENTEN- 53. Lombard was the author of the Sen- 
TiAituMParisii5,"&e. Reg. Bacon, apud tences. 


powerful for a reformation of this kind to be effected by a few polite 
scholars. It was necessary that many circumstances and events, yet in 
the womb of time, should take place, before the minds of men could be 
so far enlightened as to receive these improvements. 

But perhaps inventive poetry lost nothing by this relapse. Had clas- 
sical taste and judgement been now established, imagination would have 
suffered, and too early a check would have been given to the beautiful 
extravagances of romantic fabling. In a word, truth and reason would 
have chased before their time those spectres of illusive fancy, so plea- 
sing to the imagination, which delight to hover in the gloom of igno- 
rance and superstition, and which form so considerable a part of the 
poetry of the succeeding centuries. 




JL ALES are the learning of a rude age. In the progress of letters, 
speculation and inquiry commence with refinement of manners. Lite- 
rature becomes sentimental and discursive, in proportion as a people is 
polished ; and men must be instructed by facts, either real or imaginary, 
before they can apprehend the subtleties of argument, and the force of 

Vincent of Beauvais, a learned Dominican of France, who flourished 
in the thirteenth century, observes in his MIRROR of HISTORY, that it 
was a practice of the preachers of his age, to rouse the indifference and 
relieve the languor of their hearers, by quoting the fables of Esop : 
yet, at the same time, he recommends a sparing and prudent application 
of these profane fancies in the discussion of sacred subjects*. Among 
the Harleian manuscripts in the British Museum we find a very ancient 
collection of two hundred and fifteen stories, romantic, allegorical, re- 
ligious, and legendary, which were evidently compiled by a professed 
preacher, for the use of monastic societies. Some of these appear to 
have been committed to writing from the recitals of bards and minstrels ; 
others to have been invented and written by troubadours and monks b . 
In the year 1 389, a grand system of divinity appeared at Paris, after- 
wards translated by Caxton under the title of the COURT OF SAPYENCE, 
which abounds with a multitude of historical examples, parables, and 
apologues; and which the writer wisely supposes to be much more 
likely to interest the attention and excite the devotion of the people, 
than the authority of science, and the parade of theology. In conse- 
quence of the expediency of this mode of instruction, the Legends of 
the Saints were received into the ritual, and rehearsed in the course of 
public worship. For religious romances were nearly allied to songs of 
chivalry ; and the same gross ignorance of the people, which in the 
early centuries of Christianity created a necessity of introducing the 

a Specul. Hist. lib. iv. c. viii. fol. 31 b. b MSS. Had. 463. rnembran. fol. 

edit. Yen. 1591. 


visible pomp of theatrical ceremonies into the churches, was taught the 
duties of devotion, by being amused with the achievements of spiritual 
knight-errantry, and impressed with the examples of pious heroism. In 
more cultivated periods, the DECAMERON of Boccace, and other books 
of that kind, ought to be considered as the remnant of a species of 
writing which was founded on the simplicity of mankind, and was 
adapted to the exigencies of the infancy of society. 

Many obsolete collections of this sort still remain, both printed and 
manuscript, containing narratives either fictitious or historical, 

Of king and heroes old 

Such as the wise Demodocus once told 
In solemn songs at king Alcinous' feast. c 

But among the ancient story-books of this character, a Latin compi- 
lation entitled GESTA ROMANORUM seems to have been the favourite. 

This piece has been before incidentally noticed : but as it operated 
powerfully on the general body of our old poetry, affording a variety 
of inventions not only to Chuacer, Gower, and Lydgate, but to their 
distant successors, I have judged it of sufficient importance to be exa- 
mined at large in a separate dissertation ; which has been designedly re- 
served for this place*, for the purpose both of recapitulation and illus- 
tration, and of giving the reader a more commodious opportunity of 
surveying at leisure, from this intermediate point of view, and under 
one comprehensive detail, a connected display of the materials and ori- 
ginal subjects of many of our past and future poets. 

Indeed, in the times with which we are now about to be concerned, 
it seems to have been growing more into esteem. At the commence- 
ment of typography, Wynkyn de Worde published this book in En- 
glish. This translation was reprinted, by one Robinson, in 1577, and 
afterwards, of the same translation there were six impressions before 
the year 1601 d . There is an edition in black letter so late as the year 
1689. About the year 1596, an English version appeared of "Epi- 
tomes des cent HISTOIRES TRAGIQUES, partie extraictes des ACTES DES 
ROM A INS et autres," &c. From the popularity, or rather familiarity, 
of this work in the reign of queen Elisabeth, the title of GESTA GRAY- 
ORUM was affixed to the history of the acts of the Christmas Prince at 
Gray's-inn, in 1594 e . In Sir GILES GOOSECAP, an anonymous comedy, 
presented by the Children of the Chapel in the year 1606, we have, 
" Then for your lordship's quips and quick jests, why GESTA ROMA- 
NORUM were nothing to them f ." And in George Chapman's May-DAY, 
a comedy, printed at London in 1611, a man of the highest literary 

Milton, At a Vacation Exercise, has now been thought best to let it follow 

& c - the other Dissertations. PRICE.] 

* [This Dissertation on the Gesta Ro- d See vol. ii. Sect. xix. p. 238. 

manorum was placed by the author at the e Printed, or reprinted, in 1688. 4to. 

beginning of his Third Volume, which was ' Lond. Printed for John Windet, 1606. 

published seven years after the First: it 'Ito. 


taste for the pieces in vogue is characterised, " One that has read Mar- 
cus Aurelius, GESTA ROMANORUM, the Mirrour of Magistrates, &c 

to be led by the nose like a blind beare that has read nothing^!" The 
critics and collectors in black-letter, I believe, could produce many 
other proofs. 

The GESTA ROMANORUM were first printed without date, but as it 
is supposed before or about the year 1473, in folio, with this title, In- 
cipiunt HISTORIE NOTABILES collecte ex GESTIS ROMANORUM et qui- 
busdam aliis libris cum applicationibus eorundem^. This edition has 
one hundred and fifty-two chapters, or GESTS, and one hundred and 
seventeen leaves 1 . It is in the Gothic letter, and in two columns. 
The first chapter is of king Pompey, and the last of prince, or king, 
Cleonicus. The initials are written in red and blue ink. This edition, 
slightly mutilated, is among bishop Tanner's printed books in the Bod- 
leian library. The reverend and learned doctor Farmer, master of 
Emanuel college in Cambridge, has the second (?) edition, as it seems, 
printed at Louvain, in quarto, the same or the subsequent year, by 
John de Westfalia, under the title, Ex GESTIS ROMANORUM HISTORIE 
NOTABILES de viciis virtutibusque tractantes cum applicationibus mo- 
ralisatis et mysticis. And with this colophon, GESTA ROMANORUM 
cum quibusdam aliis HISTORIIS eisdem annexis ad MORALITATES dilu- 
cide redacta hicfinem habent. Quce, diligenter correctis aliorum viciis, 
impressit Joannes de Westfalia in alma Vniversitate Louvaniensi. It has 
one hundred and eighty-one chapters k . That is, twenty-nine more than 
are contained in the former edition : the first of the additional chap- 
ters being the story of Antiochus, or the substance of the romance of 
APOLLONIUS of TYRE. The initials are inserted in red ink 1 . Another 
followed soon afterwards, in quarto, Ex GESTIS ROMANORUM Historic 
notabiles moralizatce, per Girardum Lieu, GOUD^E, 1480. The next 
edition, with the use of which I have been politely favoured by George 
Mason, esquire, of Aldenham-lodge, in Hertfordshire, was printed in 
folio, and in the year 1488*, with this title, GESTA RHOMANORUM 
cum Applicationibus moralisatis et misticis. The colophon is, Ex 
GESTIS ROMANORUM cum pluribus applicatis Historiis de virtutibus et 
viciis mystice ad intellectum transsumptis Recollectoriijmis. Anno nre 
salutis MCCCCLXXX viij kalendas vero februarii xviij. A general and 
alphabetical table are subjoined. The book, which is printed in two 
columns, and in the Gothic character, abounding with abbreviations, 

B Act Hi. pag. 39. k The first is of king Pompey, as be- 

11 Much the same title occurs to a ma- fore. The last is entitled De Adulterio. 

nuscript of this work in the Vatican, "Hi- ' It has signatures to K k. 

storise Notabiles collects; ex Gestis Roma- * [Mr. Douce enumerates two editions 

norum et quibusdam aliis libris cum ex- between this and Lieu's ; namely, one 

plicationibus eorundem." Montfauc. Bibl. printed at Hasselt in 1481, and another 

Manuscr. torn. i. pag. 17. Num. 172. in 1482 without the name of the place. 

1 Without initials, paging, signatures, PRICE.] 
er catch-words. 


contains ninety-three leaves. The initials are written or flourished in 
red and blue, and all the capitals in the body of the text are miniated 
with a pen. There were many other later editions 01 . I must add, that 
the GESTA ROMANORUM were translated into Dutch, so early as the 
year 1484-. There is an old French version in the British Museum. 

This work is compiled from the obsolete Latin chronicles of the later 
Roman or rather German story, heightened by romantic inventions, 
from Legends of the Saints, oriental apologues, and many of the shorter 
fictitious narratives which came into Europe with the Arabian litera- 
ture, and were familiar in the ages of ignorance and imagination. The 
classics are sometimes cited for authorities ; but these are of the lower 
order, such as Valerius Maximus, Macrobius, Aulus Gellius, Seneca, 
Pliny, and Boethius. To every tale a MORALISATION is subjoined, re- 
ducing it into a Christian or moral lesson. 

Most of the oriental apologues are taken from the CLERICALIS 
DISCIPLINA, or a Latin dialogue between an Arabian philosopher and 
Edric n his son, never printed , written by Peter Alphonsus, a baptised 
Jew, at the beginning of the twelfth century, and collected from Ara- 
bian fables, apophthegms, and examples P. Some are also borrowed from 
an old Latin translation of the CALILAH u DAMNAH, a celebrated set 
of eastern fables, to which Alphonsus was indebted. 

On the whole, this is the collection in which a curious inquirer might 
expect to find the original of Chaucer's Cambuscan : 

Or, if aught else great bards beside 

In sage and solemn tunes have sung, 

Of turneys and of trophies hung, 

Of forests and inchantments drear, 

Where more is meant than meets the ear^. 
Our author frequently cites GESTA ROMANORUM, the title of his 

m [For which see vol. ii. Sect xix. p. was printed at the expense of the Societe 

235. et seq. and Mr. Douce's Illustrations des Bibliophiles Franqais, at Paris, 2 pts. 

of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 358. " A trans- 12mo. 1824., accompanied by a French 

lation by Mr. Swann, been published prose version of the fifteenth century, and 

in 2 volumes, 1824."] one of the old French metrical transla- 

n Edric was the name of Enoch among tions, with a Preface by M. J. Labouderie. 

the Arabians, to whom they attribute many Another of the metrical versions had been 

fabulous compositions. Herbelot, in V. imperfectly printed by Barbazan, in 1760, 

Lydgate'sChorle and the Bird, mentioned and a third, more completely, by Meon, 

above, is taken from the Clerical!* Disci- in the edition of 1808. M.] 

plina of Alphonsus. [An admirable edition of the Disci- 

MSS. Harl. 3861; and in many other plina Clericalis was afterwards given at 

libraries. It occurs in old French verse, Berlin by F. W. V. Schmidt, in 1827, with 

MSS. Digb. 86. membran. " Le Romaunz a long introduction, and a large body of 

de Peres Aunfour content il aprist et cha- extensive and valuable notes. Schmidt 

stia sonfils belement." [See vol. ii. Sect. has, however, erroneously stated that it 

xxiv. p. 326.] had never been printed previously to his 

[See an analysis of this work by Mr. edition z urn ersten Mai herausgegeben. 

Douce, inserted in Ellis's Spec. Metr. Rom. W.] 

i. 133. edit. 1811. There are two French " See Tyrwhitt's Chaucer, vol. iv. p. 

metrical versions, but both imperfect, in 325 seq. 

MSS. Harl. 527. 4338. The Latin text Milton's II Penseroso. 


own work ; by which I understand no particular book of that name, 
but the Roman history in general. Thus in the title of the SAINT 
ALBANS CHRONICLE, printed by Caxton, Titus Livyus de GESTIS RO- 
MANORUM is recited. In the year 1544, Lucius Florus was printed at 
Paris under the same title 1 ". In the British Museum we find "LES 
FA is DE ROM A INS jusques a la fin de 1'empire Domician, selon Orose, 
Justin, Lucan, &c." A plain historical deduction 8 . The ROMULEON, 
an old manuscript history of Rome from the foundation of the city to 
Constantine the Great, is also called DE GESTIS ROMANORUM. This 
manuscript occurs both in Latin and French : and a French copy, 
among the royal manuscripts, has the title, " ROMULEON, ou DES FA is 
DE ROMAINSV Among the manuscript books written by Lapus de 
Castellione, a Florentine civilian, who flourished about the year 1350, 
there is one, De Origine URBIS ROMJE et de GESTIS ROMANORUM u . 
Gower, in the CONFESSIO AMANTIS, often introduces Roman stories 
with the Latin preamble, Hie secundum GESTA ; where he certainly 
means the Roman History, which by degrees had acquired simply the 
appellation of GESTA. Herman Korner, in his CIIRONICA NOVELLA, 
written about the year 1438, refers for his vouchers to Bede, Orosius, 
Valerius Maximus, Josephus, Eusebius, and the Chronicon et GESTA 
ROMANORUM. Most probably, to say no more, by the CHRONICON he 
means the later writers of the Roman affairs, such as Isidore and the 
monkish compilers ; and by GESTA the ancient Roman history, as re- 
lated by Livy and the more established Latin historians. 

Neither is it possible that this work could have been brought as a 
proof or authority, by any serious annalist, for the Roman story. 

For though it bears the title of GESTA ROMANORUM, yet this title 
by no means properly corresponds with the contents of the collection ; 
which, as has been already hinted, comprehends a multitude of narra- 
tives, either not historical ; or, in another respect, such as are either totally 
unconnected with the Roman people, or perhaps the most preposterous 
misrepresentations of their history. To cover this deviation from the 
promised plan, which, by introducing a more ample variety of matter, 
has contributed to increase the reader's entertainment, our collector 
has taken care to preface almost every story with the name or reign of 
a Roman emperor ; who, at the same time, is often a monarch that 
never existed, and who seldom, whether real or supposititious, has any 
concern with the circumstances of the narrative. 

But I hasten to exhibit a compendious analysis of the chapters which 
form this very singular compilation ; intermixing occasional illustrations 
arising from the subject, and shortening or lengthening my abridgement 
of the stories, in proportion as I judge they are likely to interest the 
reader. Where, for that reason, I have been very concise, I have yet 

r Apud Vascosan. 4to. * MS. 19 E. v. 

' MSS. Reg. 20. C. i. u See vol. ii. Sect. xix. p. 238. 


said enough to direct the critical antiquarian to this collection, in ease 
he should find a similar tale occurring in any of our old poets. I have 
omitted the mention of a very few chapters, which were beneath notice. 
Sometimes, where common authors are quoted, I have only mentioned 
the author's name, without specifying the substance of the quotation ; 
for it was necessary that the reader should be made acquainted with 
our collector's track of reading, and the books which he used. In the 
mean time, this review will serve as a full notification of the edition of 
14-88, which is more comprehensive and complete than some others of 
later publication, and to which all the rest, as to a general criterion, 
may be now comparatively referred. 

CHAP. i. Of a daughter of king Pompey, whose chamber was guarded 
by five armed knights and a dog. Being permitted to be present at a 
public show, she is seduced by a duke, who is afterwards killed by the 
champion of her father's court. She is reconciled to her father, and 
betrothed to a nobleman ; on which occasion, she receives from her 
father an embroidered robe and a crown of gold, from the champion a 
gold ring, another from the wise man who pacified the king's anger, 
another from the king's son, another from her cousin, and from her 
spouse a seal of gold. All these presents are inscribed with proverbial 
sentences, suitable to the circumstances of the princess. 

The latter part of this story is evidently oriental. The feudal man- 
ners, in a book which professes to record the achievements of the Ro- 
man people, are remarkable in the introductory circumstances. But 
of this mixture we shaJl see many striking instances. 

CHAP. ii. Of a youth taken captive by pirates. The king's daughter 
falls in love with him ; and having procured his escape, accompanies him 
to his own country, where they are married. 

CHAP. vi. An emperor is married to a beautiful young princess. In 
case of death, they mutually agree not to survive one another. To try 
the truth of his wife, the emperor going into a distant country, orders 
a report of his death to be circulated. In remembrance of her vow, 
and in imitation of the wives, of India, she prepares to thro\v herself 
headlong from a high precipice. She is prevented by her father ; who 
interposes his paternal authority, as predominating over a rash and un- 
lawful promise. 

CHAP. vii. Under the reign of Dioclesian, a noble knight had two 
sons, the youngest of which marries a harlot. 

This story, but with a difference of circumstances, ends like the 
beautiful apologue of the Prodigal Son. 

CHAP. viii. The emperor Leo commands three female statues to be 
made. One has a gold ring on a finger pointing forward, another a 
beard of gold, and the third a golden cloak and purple tunic. Who- 
ever steals any of these ornaments, is to be punished with an ignomi- 
nious death. 


This story is copied by Gower, in the CONFESSIO AMANTIS ; but he 
has altered some of the circumstances. He supposes a statue of Apollo. 

Of plate of golde a berde he hadde, 
The wiche his brest all ovir spradde 
Of golde also, without fayle, 
His mantell was, of large entayle, 
Besette with perrey all aboute : 
Forth ryght he straught his fynger oute, 
Upon the whiche he had a rynge, 
To seen it was a ryche thynge, 
A fyne carbuncle for the nones 
Moste precious of all stones w . 

In the sequel, Gower follows the substance of our author, 

CHAP. x. Vespasian marries a wife in a distant country, who re- 
fuses to return home with him, and yet declares she will kill herself if 
he goes. The emperor ordered two rings to be made, of a wondrous 
efficacy ; one of which, in the stone, has the image of Oblivion, the 
other the image of Memory : the ring of Oblivion he gave to the em- 
press, and returned home with the ring of Memory. 

CHAP. xi. The queen of the south sends her daughter to king Alex- 
ander, to be his concubine. She was exceedingly beautiful, but had 
been nourished with poison from her birth. Alexander's master, Ari- 
stotle, whose sagacity nothing could escape, knowing this, entreated, 
that before she was admitted to the king's bed, a malefactor condemned 
to death might be sent for, who should give her a kiss, in the presence 
of the king. The malefactor, on kissing her, instantly dropped down 
dead. Aristotle, having explained his reasons for what he had done, 
was loaded with honours by the king, and the princess was dismissed 
to her mother. 

This story is founded on the twenty-eighth chapter of Aristotle's SE- 
CRETUM SECRETORUM ; in which, a queen of India is said to have 
treacherously sent to Alexander, among otlier costly presents, the pre- 
tended testimonies of her friendship, a girl of exquisite beauty, who 
having been fed with serpents from her infancy, partook of their na- 
ture y. If I recollect right, in Pliny there are accounts of nations whose 
natural food was poison. Mithridates, king of Pontus, the land of ve- 
nomous herbs, and the country of the sorceress Medea, was supposed 

w Lib. v. fol. 122 b. Latini, and that therefore, and because 
y [See Sect. iii. p. 135. note x of this the Arabic copies were scarce, he trans- 
volume.] This I now cite from a Latin lated it into Latin. 

translation, without date, but evidently This printed copy does not exactly cor- 

printed before 1500. It is dedicated to respond with MS. Bodl. 495. membr. 4to. 

Guido Vere de Valencia, bishop of Tri- In the last, Alexander's miraculous horn 

poly, by his most humble Clerk, Philip- is mentioned at fol. 45 b. In the former, 

pus ; who says, that he found this trea- in ch. Ixxii. The dedication is the same 

Use in Arabic at Antioch, quo carebant in both. 
VOL. I. k 


to eat poison. Sir John Maundeville's Travels, I believe, will afford 
other instances. 

CHAP. xii. A profligate priest, in the reign of the emperor Otto, or 
Otho, walking in the fields, and neglecting to say mass, is reformed by 
a vision of a comely old man. 

CHAP. xiii. An empress having lost her husband, becomes so dotingly 
fond of her only son, then three years of age, as not to bear his absence 
for a moment. They sleep together every night, and when he was 
eighteen years of age, she proves with child by him. She murthers 
the infant, and her left hand is immediately marked with four circles 
of blood. Her repentance is related, in consequence of a vision of the 
holy virgin. 

This story is in the SPECULUM HISTORIALE of Vincent of Beauvais, 
who wrote about the year 1250 Z . 

CHAP. xiv. Under the reign of the emperor Dorotheus, a remark- 
able example of the filial piety of a young man, who redeems his father, 
a knight, from captivity. 

CHAP. xv. Eufemian, a nobleman in the court of the emperor of 
Rome, is attended by three thousand servants girt with golden belts, 
and clothed in silken vestments. His house was crowded with pil- 
grims, orphans, and widows, for whom three tables were kept every 
day. He has a son, Allexius, who quits his father's palace, and lives 
unknown seventeen years in a monastery in Syria. He then returns, 
and lives seventeen years undiscovered as a pilgrim in his father's fa- 
mily, where he suffers many indignities from the servants. 

Allexius, or Alexis, was canonised. The story is taken from his Le- 
gend 8 . In the metrical Lives of the Saints, his life is told in a sort of 
measure different from that of the rest, and not very common in the 
earlier stages of our poetry. It begins thus : 

Lesteneth alle and herkeneth me, 
Zonge and olde, bonde and fre, 

And ich zow telle sone, 
How a zobght man, gent and fre, 
Bygan this worldis wele to fie, 

Y-born he was in Rome. 

In Rome was a dozty man 
That was y-cleped Eufemian, 

Man of moche myzte ; 
Gold and seluer he hadde ynouz, 
Hall and boures, oxse and plouz, 

And swith wel it dyzte. ' 

When Allexius returns home in disguise, and asks his father about his 
son, the father's feelings are thus described : 

1 Lib. vii. cap. 93 seq. f. 86 b. edit. Yen. * See Caxton, Gold. Leg. f. ccclxiii. b. 


So sone so he spake of his sone, 
The guode man, as was his wone, 

Gan to sike b sore ; 
His herte fel c so colde so ston, 
The teres felle to his ton d , 

On her herd hore. 

At his burial, many miracles are wrought on the sick : 

With mochel sizt e , and mochel song, 
That holy cors, hem alle among, 
Bischoppis to cherche bere. 

Amyddes rizt the heze strete f , 
So moche folke hym gone mete 

That they resten a stonde, 
All the sike g that to him come, 
I-heled wer swithe sone 

Of fet h and eke of honde : 

The blinde come to hare 1 sizt, 
The croked gonne sone rizt k , 

The lame for to go : 
That dombe wer fonge 1 speeche, 
Thez herede m God the sothe leche", 

And that halwe also. 

The day zede and drouz to nyzt, 
No lenger dwelle? they ne myzt, 

To cherche they moste wende ; 
The bellen they gonne to rynge, 
The clerkes heze^ to synge, 

Everich in his ende r . 

Tho the corse to cherche com 
Glad they wer ev'erichon 

That there ycure wer, 
The pope and the emperour 
Byfore an auter of seynt Savour 

Ther sette they the bere. 

Aboute the bere was moche lizt 
With proude palle was bedizt, 
I-beten al with golde 8 . 

b sigh. c felt. m herfed, blessed. 

d feet. e sighs. n the true physician. hallovr. 

f high-street. p tarry. q high. 

g they sighed. [All the sick. RITSON.] r at his seat in the choir. 

11 feet. 1 their. * MSS. Coll. Trin. Oxon. Cod. ST.supr. 

k straight. l found [took, received}. citat. 


The history of saint Allexius is told entirely in the same words in the 
GESTA ROMANORUM, and in the LEGENDA AUREA of Jacobus de Vo- 
ragineS translated, through a French medium, by Caxton. This work 
of Jacobus does not consist solely of the legends of the saints, but is 
interspersed with multis aliis pulcherrimis et peregrinis historiis, with 
many other most beautiful and strange histories v . 

CHAP. xvi. A Roman emperor in digging for the foundation of 
a new palace, finds a golden sarcophagus, or coffin, inscribed with 
mysterious words and sentences. Which being explained, prove to 
be so many moral lessons of instruction for the emperor's future con- 

CHAP. xvii. A poor man named Guido engages to serve an emperor 
of Rome in six several capacities or employments. One of these ser- 
vices is, to show the best way to the holy land. Acquitting himself in 
all with singular address and fidelity, he is made a knight, and loaded 
with riches. 

CHAP, xviii. A knight named Julian is hunting a stag, who turns 
and says, " You will kill your father and mother." On this he went 
into a distant country, where he married a rich lady of a castle. Ju- 
lian's father and mother travelled into various lands to find their son, 
and at length accidentally came to this castle, in his absence ; where 
telling their story to the lady, who had heard it from her husband, she 
discovered who they were, and gave them her own bed to sleep in. 
Early in the morning, while she was at mass in the chapel, her husband 
Julian unexpectedly returned; and entering his wife's chamber, per- 
ceived two persons in the bed, whom he immediately slew with his 
sword, hastily supposing them to be his wife and her adulterer. At 
leaving the chamber, he met his wife coming from the chapel ; and 
with great astonishment asked her, who the persons were sleeping in 
her bed ? She answered, " They are your parents, who have been seek- 
ing you so long, and whom I have honoured with a place in our own 
bed." Afterwards they founded a sumptuous hospital for the accom- 
modation of travellers, on the banks -of a dangerous river. 

This story is told in Caxton's GOLDEN LEGENDE U , and in the metri- 
cal Lives of the Saints w . Hence Julian, or Saint Julian, was called 
hospitator, or the gode herberjour and the Pater Noster became fa- 
mous, which he used to say for the souls of his father and mother whom 
he had thus unfortunately killed x . The peculiar excellences of this 
prayer are displayed by Boccacey. Chaucer, speaking of the hospitable 
disposition of his FRANKELEIN, says, 

Saint Julian he was in his own countre 2 . 

* Hystor.lxxxix. f. clviii. edit. 1479. fol. u Fol. 90. edit. 1493. 

And in Vincent of Beauvais, who quotes w MSS. Bodl. 1596. f. 4. 

Gesta AUexii, SpecuL Hist. lib. xviii. cap. * Ibid. y Decam. D. ii. N. 2. 

43 seq. f. 241 b. * Prol. v. 342. See infr. vol. ii. Sect. 

v In the Colophon. xvii. p. 202. 


This history is, like the last, related by our compiler, in the words of 
Julian's Legend, as it stands in Jacobus de Voragine a . Bollandus has 
inserted Antoninus's account of this saint, which appears also to be 
literally the same b . It is told, yet not exactly in the same words, by 
Vincent of Beauvais c . 

I take this opportunity of observing, that the Legends of the Saints, 
so frequently referred to in the GESTA ROMANORUM, often contain 
high strokes of fancy, both in the structure and decorations of the 
story. That they should abound in extravagant conceptions, may be 
partly accounted for, from the superstitious and visionary cast of the 
writer: but the truth is, they derive this complexion from the east. 
Some were originally forged by monks of the Greek church, to whom 
the oriental fictions and mode of fabling were familiar. The more 
early of the Latin lives were carried over to Constantinople, where 
they were translated into Greek with new embellishments of eastern 
imagination. These being returned into Europe, were translated into 
Latin, where they naturally superseded the old Latin archetypes. Others 
of the Latin lives contracted this tincture, from being written after the 
Arabian literature became common in Europe. The following ideas 
in the Life of Saint Pelagian evidently betray their original: "As the 
bysshop sange masse in the cyte of Usanance, he saw thre dropes ryghte 
clere all of one gratenesse whiche were upon the aulter, and al thre 
ranne to gyder in to a precyous gemme : and whan they had set thys 
gemme in a crosse of golde, al the other precyous stones that were 
there, fyllen out d , and thys gemme was clere to them that were clene 
out of synne, and it was obscure and dark to synners 6 ," &c. The pe- 
culiar cast of romantic invention was admirably suited to serve the 
purposes of superstition. 

Possevin, a learned Jesuit, who wrote about the close of the sixteenth 
century, complains, that for the last five hundred years the courts of 
all the princes in Europe had been infatuated by reading romance* ; 
and that, in his time, it was a mark of inelegance, not to be familiarly 
acquainted with Lancelot du Lake, Perceforest, Tristan, Giron the 
Courteous, Amadis de Gaul, Primaleon, Boccace's Decameron, and 
Ariosto. He even goes so far as to say, that the devil instigated Lu- 
ther to procure a translation of Amadis from Spanish into French, for 
the purpose of facilitating his grand scheme of overthrowing the catho- 
lic religion. The popularity of this book, he adds, warped the minds 
of the French nation from their ancient notions and studies; intro- 
duced a neglect of the Scriptures, and propagated a love for astrology, 
and other fantastic arts f . But with the leave of this zealous catholic I 
would observe, that this sort of reading was likely to produce, if any, 

a Hystor. xxxii. f. Ixii. a. d fell out. 

b Act. Sanctor. torn. ii. Januar. p. 974. * Caxton's Gold. Leg. f. ccclxxxxviii. 

Antv. 1643. ' Biblioth. Select, lib.i. cap. 25. p. 113. 

c Specul. Hist. lib. ix. c. 115. f. 115. edit. 1593. 
Vc-net. 1591. 


an effect quite contrary. The genius of romance and of popery was 
the same ; and both were strengthened by the reciprocation of a simi- 
lar spirit of credulity. The dragons and the castles of the one were 
of a piece with the visions and pretended miracles of the other. The 
ridiculous theories of false and unsolid science, which, by the way, 
had been familiarised to the French by other romances, long before 
the translation of Amadis, were surely more likely to be advanced 
under the influence of a religion founded on deception, than in conse- 
quence of Luther's reformed system, which aimed at purity and truth, 
and which was to gain its end by the suppression of ancient prejudices. 

Many of the absurdities of the catholic worship were perhaps, as I 
have hinted, in some degree necessary in the early ages of the church, 
on account of the ignorance of the people; at least, under such cir- 
cumstances they were natural, and therefore excusable. But when the 
world became wiser, those mummeries should have been abolished, for 
the same reason that the preachers left off quoting Esop's fables in their 
sermons, and the stage ceased to instruct the people in the scripture- 
history by the representation of the MYSTERIES. The advocates of the 
papal communion do not consider, that in a cultivated age, abounding 
with every species of knowledge, they continue to retain those fooleries 
which were calculated only for Christians in a condition of barbarism, 
and of which the use now no longer subsists. 

CHAP. xix. When Julius Cesar was preparing to pass the Rubicon, a 
gigantic spectre appeared from the middle of the river, threatening to 
interrupt his passage, if he came not to establish the peace of Rome *. 
Our author cites the GESTA ROMANORUM for this story. 

It was impossible that the Roman history could pass through the 
dark ages without being infected with many romantic corruptions. In- 
deed, the Roman was almost the only ancient history which the read- 
ers of those ages knew : and what related even to pagan Rome, the 
parent of the more modern papal metropolis of Christianity, was re- 
garded with a superstitious veneration, and often magnified with mira- 
culous additions. 

CHAP. xx. The birth of the emperor Henry, son of earl Leopold, and 
his wonderful preservation from the stratagems of the emperor Con- 
rade, till his accession to the imperial throne. 

This story is told by Caxton in the GOLDEN LEGENDE, under the 
life of Pe.lagian the pope, entitled, Herefoloweth the lyf of Saynt Pela- 
gyen the pope, with many other hystoryes and gestys of the Lombardes, 

* It is singular that Warton did not re- Et gemitu permixta loqui : Quo tenditis 
collect the well-known passage in Lucan : ultra ? 

" Ut ventum est parvi Rubiconisadundas, Q UO fertis mea signa, viri ? Si jure ve- 
Ingens visa duct patrice trepidantis imago, nitis, 

Clara per obscurain vultu mcestissima si civ es, hue usque licet." Pharsalia, 

noctem, lib. i. 185192. 

Turrigero canos effundens vertice crines, This is evidently the prototype of the 

Caesarie lacera, nudisque adstare lacertis, story in the Gesta. R.G. 



and of Machomete, with other cronycles*. The GESTA LONGOBARDO- 
RUM are fertile in legendary matter, and furnished Jacobus de Vora- 
gine, Caxton's original, with many marvellous histories 11 . Caxton, from 
the gestes of the Lombardis, gives a wonderful account of a pestilence 
in Italy, under the reign of king Gilbert 1 . 

printed in 1483. This very uncommon book is not mentioned by 
Maittaire. It has this colophon : " Expliciunt quorundam Sanctorum 
Legende adjuncte post Lombardicam historiam. Impressa Argentine, 
M.cccc.Lxxxin. k " That is, the latter part of the book contains a few 
saints not in the history of the Lombards, which forms the first part. 
I have neither time nor inclination to examine whether this is Jaco- 
bus's LEGENDA ; but I believe it to be the same. I think I have seen 
an older edition of the work, at Cologne 1470 1 . 

I have observed that Caxton's GOLDEN LEGENDE is taken from Ja- 
cobus de Voragine. This perhaps is not precisely true. Caxton in- 
forms us in his first preface to the first edition of 1483 m , that he had 
in his possession a Legend in French, another in Latin, and a third in 
English, which varied from the other two in many places ; and that 
MANY HISTORIES were contained in the English collection, which did 
not occur in the French and Latin. Therefore, says he, " I have wry- 
ton ONE OUTE of the sayd three bookes : which I have orderyd other- 
wyse than in the sayd Englysshe Legende, which was so to fore made." 
Caxton's English original might have been the old METRICAL LIVES 

CHAP. xxi. A story from Justin, concerning a conspiracy of the 
Spartans against their king. 

CHAP. xxii. How the Egyptians deified Isis and Osiris. From saint 
Austin, as is the following chapter. 

CHAP. xxiv. Of a magician and his delicious garden, which he shows 
only to fools arid to his enemies. 

CHAP. xxv. Of a lady who keeps the staff and scrip of a stranger, 
who rescued her from the oppressions of a tyrant : but being after- 
wards courted by three kings, she destroys those memorials of her 
greatest benefactor. 

CHAP. xxvi. An emperor, visiting the holy land, commits his daugh- 
ter and his favorite dog, who is very fierce, to the custody of five 
knights, under the superintendence of his seneschal. The seneschal 
neglects his charge : the knights are obliged to quit their post for want 
of necessaries ; and the dog, being fed with the provisions assigned to 
the knights, grows fiercer, breaks his three chains, and kills the lady 
who was permitted to wander at large in her father's hall. When the 
emperor returns, the seneschal is thrown into a burning furnace. 

6 Fol. ccclxxxxvii. b. quae et LOMBARDICA dicitur." Lugd. 

h See his Legend. Aur. fol. cccxv. 1509. fol. 

5 Ubi supr. f. Ixxvi. k Fol. m Fol. at Westminster. This is one of 

1 Fol. See also "Legenda Sanctorum the finest of Caxton's publications. 


CHAP, xxviii. The old woman and her little dog. 

CHAP. xxx. The three honours and three dishonours, decreed by a 
certain king to every conqueror returning from war. 

CHAP. xxxi. The speeches of the philosophers on seeing king Alex- 
ander's golden sepulchre. 

CHAP, xxxiii. A man had three trees in his garden, on which his 
three wives successively hanged themselves. Another begs an offset 
from each of the trees, to be planted in the gardens of his married 
neighbours. From Valerius Maximus, who is cited. 

CHAP, xxxiv. Aristotle's seven rules to his pupil Alexander. 

This, I think, is from the SECRETA SECRETORUM. Aristotle, for two 
reasons, was a popular character in the dark ages. He was the father 
of their philosophy ; and had been the preceptor of Alexander the 
Great, one of the principal heroes of romance. Nor was Aristotle him- 
self without his romantic history ; in which he falls in love with a queen 
of Greece, who quickly confutes his subtlest syllogisms. 

CHAP. xxxv. The GESTA ROMANORUM cited, for the custom among 
the ancient Romans of killing a lamb for pacifying quarrels. 

CHAP, xxxvi. Of a king who desires to know the nature of man. 
Solinus, DE MIRABILIBUS MUNDI, is here quoted. 

CHAP, xxxvii. Pliny's account of the stone which the eagle places 
in her nest, to avoid the poisor of a serpent. 

CHAP, xxxix. Julius Cesar's mediation between two brothers. From 

We must not forget, that there was the Romance of JULIUS CESAR. 
And I believe Antony and Cleopatra were more known characters in 
the dark ages than is commonly supposed. Shakspeare is thought to 
have formed his play on this story from North's translation of Amyot's 
unauthentic French Plutarch, published at London in 1579. Mont- 
faucon, among the manuscripts of Monsieur Lancelot, recites an old 
piece written about the year 1500, "LA VIE ET FAIS DE MARC AN- 
TOINE le triumvir et de sa mie CLEOPATRA, translate de 1'historien 
Plutarque pour tres illustre haute et puissante dame Madame Fran- 
coise de Fouez Dame de Chateaubriand 11 ." I know not whether this 
piece was ever printed. At least it shows, that the story was familiar 
at a more early period than is imagined ; and leads us to suspect, that 
there might have been other materials used by Shakspeare on this sub- 
ject, than those hitherto pointed out by his commentators. 

That Amyot's French version of Plutarch should contain corruptions 
and innovations, will easily be conceived, when it is remembered that 
he probably translated from an old Italian version . A new exhibition 

Bibl. Manuscr. torn. ii. pag. 1669. rewarded with an abbacy for translating 

col. 2. the Theagenes and Chariclea of Heliodo- 

See Bibl. Fr. de la Croix, &c. torn. i. rus, for writing which, the author was 

p. 388. Amyot was a great translator of deprived of a bishoprick. He died about 

Greek books; but I fear, not always from 1580. 
the Greek. It is remarkable, that he was 


in English of the French caricature of this most valuable biographer 
by North, must have still more widely extended the deviation from the 

CHAP. xl. The infidelity of a wife proved by feeling her pulse in con- 
versation. From Macrobius. 

CHAP. xlii. Valerius Maximus is cited, concerning a column at Rome 
inscribed with four letters four times written. 

CHAP. xliv. Tiberius orders a maker of ductile glass, which could 
not be broken, to be beheaded, lest it should become more valuable 
than silver and gold. 

This piece of history, which appears also in Cornelius Agrippa DE 
VANITATE SCIENTIARUMP, is taken from Pliny, or rather from his 
transcriber Isidore ^. Pliny, in relating this story, says, that the tem- 
perature of glass, so as to render it flexible, was discovered under the 
reign of Tiberius. 

In the same chapter Pliny observes, that glass is susceptible of all 
colours : " Fit et album, et murrhinum, aut hyacinthos sapphirosque 
imitatum, et omnibus aliis coloribus. Nee est alia nunc materia se- 
quacior, aut etiam PICTURES ACCOMMODATIOR. Maximus tamen ho- 
nor in candido r ." But the Romans, as the last sentence partly proves, 
probably never used any coloured glass for windows. The first notice 
of windows of a church made of coloured glass occurs in chronicles 
quoted by Muratori. In the year 802, a pope built a church at Rome, 
and, " fenestras ex vitro diversis coloribus conclusit atque decoravit 8 ." 
And in 856, he produces " fenestras vero vitreis coloribus*," &c. This 
however was a sort of mosaic in glass. To express figures in glass, or 
what we now call the art of painting in glass, was a very different work; 
and, I believe, I can show it was brought from Constantinople to Rome 
before the tenth century, with other ornamental arts. Guicciardini, 
who wrote about 1560, in his Descrittione de tutti PaesiBassi, ascribes 
the invention of baking colours in glass for church-windows to the 
Netherlanders u ; but he does not mentis the period, and I think he 
must be mistaken. It is certain that this art owed much to the labor- 
ious and mechanical genius of the Germans ; and, in particular, their 
deep researches and experiments in chemistry, which they cultivated 
in the dark ages with the most indefatigable assiduity, must have greatly 
assisted its operations. I could give very early anecdotes of this art in 

p Orig. lib. xvi. cap. xv. p. 1224. Apud rubric of the last section, by Le Comte de 

Auct. Ling. Lat. 1602. Tanlcarville. 

Isidore's was a favorite REPERTORY of q Sandford's English Translat. cap. 90. 

the middle age. He is cited for an ac- p. 159 a. edit. Lond. 1569. 4to. 

count of the nature and qualities of the r Nat. Hist. lib. xxxvi. cap. xvi. p. 725. 

Falcon, in the Prologue to the second or edit. Lugd. 1615. 

metrical part of the old Phebus de deduiz * Dissert. Antichit. Ital. torn. i. c. xxiv. 

de la chasse des Bestes sauvages et des oy~ p. 287. 

seaux de Proye, printed early at Paris with- * Ibid. p. 281. 

out date, and written, as appears by the u Antw. Plantin. 1580. fol. 


England. But, with the careless haste of a lover, I am anticipating 
what I have to say of it in my HISTORY OF GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE 

CHAP. xlv. A king leaves four sons by his wife, only one of which 
is lawfully begotten. They have a contest for the throne. The dispute 
is referred to the deceased king's secretary, who orders the body to be 
taken from the tomb ; and decrees, that the son who can shoot an arrow 
deepest into it shall be king. The first wounds the king's right hand ; 
the second his mouth ; the third his heart. The last wound is supposed 
to be the successful one. At length the fourth, approaching the body, 
cried out with a lamentable voice, " Far be it from me to wound my 
father's body!" In consequence of this speech, he is pronounced by 
the nobles and people present to be the true heir, and placed on the 

CHAP, xlviii. Dionysius is quoted for the story of Perillus's brazen 

Gower in the CONFESSIO AMANTIS has this story ; which he pre- 
faces by saying that he found it in a Cronike*. In Caxton's Golden 
Legende, Macrobius is called a chronicle. " Macrobius sayth in a 
cronike x ." Chronicles are naturally the first efforts of the literature of 
a barbarous age. The writers, if any, of those periods are seldom equal 
to anything more than a bare narration of facts ; and such sort of mat- 
ter is suitable to the taste and capacity of their cotemporary readers. 
A further proof of the principles advanced in the beginning of this 

CHAP. xlix. The duchess Rosmilla falls in love with Conan, king of 
Hungary, whom she sees from the walls of the city of Foro-Juli, which 
he is besieging. She has four sons and two daughters. She betrays 
the city to Conan, on condition that he will marry her the next day. 
Conan, a barbarian, executed the contract ; but on the third day ex- 
posed her to his whole army, saying, " Such a wife deserves such a 

Paulus, that is, Paulus Diaconus, the historian of the Longobards, is 
quoted. He was chancellor of Desiderius, the last king of the Lom- 
bards ; with whom he was taken captive by Charlemagne. The history 
here referred to is entitled GESTA LONGC-BARDC-RUM?. 

CHAP. 1. From Valerius Maximus. 

CHAP. li. From Josephus. 

CHAP. Hi. From Valerius Maximus. 

CHAP. liii. From the same. 

CHAP. liv. The emperor Frederick's marble portico near Capua. 

T ^ ib ' Vi - f " 161 b< col- ** king is Cacan > or Cacanus, a king of the 

x Fol. Ixii. b. Huns. There are some fine circumstances 

y See lib. iv. cap. xxviii. Apud Mura- of distress in Paulus's description of this 

torii Scriptor. ftal. i. p.465. edit. Mediolan. siege. 

1723. where she is called Romilda. The 


I wonder there are not more romances extant on the lives of the 
Roman emperors of Germany ; many of whom, to say no more, were 
famous in the crusades. There is a romance in old German rhyme, 
called TEUERDANK, on Maximilian the First, written by Melchior 
Pfinzing his chaplain. Printed at Nuremberg in 1517 Z . 

CHAP. Iv. Of a king who has one son exceedingly beautiful, and four 
daughters, named Justice, Truth, Mercy, and Peace. 

CHAP. Ivi. A nobleman invited a merchant to his castle, whom he 
met accordingly upon the road. At entering the castle, the merchant 
was astonished at the magnificence of the chambers, which were over- 
laid with gold. At supper, the nobleman placed the merchant next to 
his wife, who immediately shewed evident tokens of being much struck 
with her beauty. The table was covered with the richest dainties ; but 
while all were served in golden dishes, a pittance of meat was placed 
before the lady in a dish made out of a human skull. The merchant 
was surprised and terrified at this strange spectacle. At length he was 
conducted to bed in a fair chamber; where, when left alone, he ob- 
served a glimmering lamp in a nook or corner of the room, by which 
he discovered two dead bodies hung up by the arms. He was now 
filled with the most horrible apprehensions, and could not sleep all the 
night. When he rose in the morning, he was asked by the nobleman 
how he liked his entertainment ? He answered, " There is plenty of 
every thing ; but the skull prevented me from eating at supper, and 
the two dead bodies which I saw in my chamber from sleeping. With 
your leave therefore I will depart." The nobleman answered, " My 
friend, you observed the beauty of my wife. The skull which you saw 
placed before her at supper, was the head of a duke, whom I detected 
in her embraces, and which I cut off with my own sword. As a me- 
morial of her crime, and to teach her modest behaviour, her adulterer's 
skull is made to serve for her dish. The bodies of the two young men 
hanging in the chamber are my two kinsmen, who were murthered 
by the son of the duke. To keep up my sense of revenge for their 
blood, I visit their dead bodies every day. Go in peace, and remember 
to judge nothing without knowing the truth." 

Caxton has the history of Albione, a king of the Lombards, who 
having conquered another king, " lade awaye wyth hym Rosamounde 
his wyf in captyvyte, but after he took hyr to hys wyf, and he dyde do 
make a cuppe of the skulle of that kynge and closed in fyne golde and 
sylver, and dranke out of it a ." This, by the way, is the story of the 

z Fol. on vellum. It is not printed with adopted, as a romantic tale, into the Hi- 

moveable types ; but every page is graved stoires Tragiques of Belleforest, p. 297. 

in wood or brass, with wooden cuts. It edit. 1580. The English reader may find 

is a most beautiful book. it in Heylin's Cosmographie, B. i. col. i. 

a Golden Leg. f. ccclxxxxvii. a. edit. p. 57. and in Machiavel's History of Flo- 

1493. The compilers of the SANCTILOGE rence, in English, Lond. 1680. B. i. p. 5. 

probably took this story from Paul us seq. See also Lydgate's Bochas, B. ix. 

Diaconus, Gest. Longoburd. ut supr. lib. ch. xxvii. 
ii. cap. xxviii. p. 435. seq. It has been 


old Italian tragedy of Messer Giovanni Rucellai planned on the model 
of the ancients, and acted in the Rucellai gardens at Florence, before 
Leo the Tenth and his court, in the year 1516 b . Davenant has also a 
tragedy on the same subject, called ALBOVINE King of the Lombards 
his Tragedy. 

A most sanguinary scene in Shakspeare's TITUS ANDRONICUS, an 
incident in Dryden's, or Boccace's TANCRED AND SIGISMONDA, and the 
catastrophe of the beautiful metrical romance of the LADY OF FAGUEL, 
are founded on the same horrid ideas of inhuman retaliation and savage 
revenge: but in the two last pieces, the circumstances are so inge- 
niously imagined, as to lose a considerable degree of their atrocity, and 
to be productive of the most pathetic and interesting situations. 

CHAP. Ivii. The enchanter Virgil places a magical image in the 
middle of Rome c , which communicates to the emperor Titus all the 
secret offences committed every day in the city d . 

This story is in the old black-lettered history of the necromancer 
Virgil, in Mr. Garrick's collection. 

Vincent of Beauvais relates many wonderful things, mirabiliter 
actitata, done by the poet Virgil, whom he represents as a magician. 
Among others, he says, that Virgil fabricated those brazen statues at 
Rome, called Salvacio Romce, which were the gods of the provinces 
conquered by the Romans. Every one of these statues held in its 
hand a bell framed by magic ; and when any province was meditating 
a revolt, the statue, or idol, of that country struck his bell e . This fic- 
tion is mentioned by the old anonymous author of the MIRABILIA 
ROMJE, written in the thirteenth century, and printed by Montfaucon f . 
It occurs in Lydgate's BOCHAS. He is speaking of the Pantheon, 

Whyche was a temple of old foundacion, 
Ful of ydols, up set on hye stages ; 
There throughe the worlde of every nacion 
Were of theyr goddes set up great ymages, 
To every kingdom direct were their visages, 
As poetes and Fulgens^ by hys live 
In bokes olde plainly doth dyscrive. 

Every ymage had in his hande a bell, 
As apperteyneth to every nacion, 
Which, by craft some token should tell 
Whan any kingdom fil in rebellion, &c. h 

J See vol. ii. Sect. xxxv. p. 547. in an old metrical romance called The 

For the necromancer Virgil, see vol. Stacyons of Rome, in which Romulus is 

11. Sectxxviii. p 411. said to be born of the duches of T 

In the Cento Novelle Antiche. Nov. vii. MSS. Cotton. Calig. A. 2. fol 81 

Specul. Histor. lib. iv. cap. 61. f. 66 a. * Fulgentius 

' Diar.Itel. cap. xx. p. 288. edit. 1702. * Tragedies of Bochas, B. ix. ch.i. St. 4. 

any wonders are also related of Rome, Compare vol.ii. Sect. xxii. p. 284. 


This fiction is not in Boccace, Lydgate's original : it is in the above- 
cited Gothic history of Virgil. Gower's Virgil, I think, belongs to the 
same romance. 

And eke Virgil of acqueintance 
I sigh, where he the maiden prayd, 
Which was the doughter, as men sayd, 
Of the emperour whilom of Rome. 1 

CHAP.lviii. King Asmodeus pardons every malefactor condemned to 
death, who can tell three indisputable truths or maxims. 

CHAP. lix. The emperor Jovinian's history. 

On this there is an ancient French MORALITE, entitled L'Orgueil 
et presomption de I'Empereur JoviNiAN k . This is also the story of 
ROBERT king of Sicily, an old English poem or romance, from which 
I have given copious extracts 1 . 

CHAP.IX. A king has a daughter named Rosimund, aged ten years; 
exceedingly beautiful, and so swift of foot, that her father promises her 
in marriage to any man who can overcome her in running ; but those 
who fail in the attempt are to lose their heads. After many trials, in 
which she was always victorious, she loses the race with a poor man, 
who throws in her way a silken girdle, a garland of roses, and a silken 
purse inclosing a golden ball, inscribed, " Whoso plays with me will 
never be satiated with play." She marries the poor man, who inherits 
her father's kingdom. 

This is evidently a Gothic innovation of the classical tale of Ata- 
lanta. But it is not impossible that an oriental apologue might have 
given rise to the Grecian fable. 

CHAP. Ixi. The emperor Claudius marries his daughter to the phi- 
losopher Socrates. 

CHAP. Ixii. Florentina's picture. 

CHAP. Ixiii. Vespasian's daughter's garden. All her lovers are 
obliged to enter this garden before they can obtain her love, but none 
return alive. The garden is haunted by a lion ; and has only one en- 
trance, which divides into so many windings, that it never can be found 
again. At length, she furnishes a knight with a ball or clue of thread, 
and teaches him how to foil the lion. Having achieved this adventure, 
he marries the lady. 

Here seems to be an allusion to Medea's history. 

CHAP. Ixiv. A virgin is married to a king, because she makes him a 
shirt of a piece of cloth three fingers long and broad. 

CHAP. Ixv. A cross with four inscriptions. 

CnAP.lxvi. A knight offers to recover a lady's inheritance, which 
had been seized by a tyrant, on condition, that if he is slain, she shall 

1 Confess. Amant. L. viii. f. clxxxix. a. * See Sect. v. p. 183 et seqq. of this 

col. 2. volume. 

k See Sect. v. p. H3 of this vchn.e. 


always keep his bloody armour hanging in her chamber. He regains 
her property, although he dies in the attempt ; and as often as she was 
afterwards sued for in marriage, before she gave an answer, she returned 
to her chamber, and contemplating with tears her deliverer's bloody 
armour., resolutely rejected every solicitation. 

CHAP. Ixvii. The wise and foolish knight. 

CHAP. Ixviii. A woman understands the language of birds. The three 

CHAP. Ixix. A mother gives to a man who marries her daughter a 
shirt, which can never be torn, nor will ever need washing, while they 
continue faithful to each other. 

CHAP. Ixx. The king's daughter, who requires three impossible 
things of her lovers. 

CHAP. Ixxii. The king who resigns his crown to his son. 

CnAP.lxxiv. The golden apple. 

CHAP. Ixxv. A king's three daughters marry three dukes, who all die 
the same year. 

CHAP. Ixxvi. The two physicians. 

CHAP. Ixxix. The fable of the familiar ass. 

CHAP. Ixxx. A devout hermit lived in a cave, near which a shepherd 
folded his flock. Many of the sheep being stolen, the shepherd was 
unjustly killed by his master as being concerned in the theft. The 
hermit seeing an innocent man put to death, began to suspect the ex- 
istence of a Divine Providence ; and resolved no longer to perplex 
himself with the useless severities of religion, but to mix in the world. 
In travelling from his retirement, he was met by an angel in the figure 
of a man ; who said, " I am an angel, and am sent by God to be your 
companion on the road." They entered a city ; and begged for lodging 
at the house of a knight, who entertained them at a splendid supper. 
In the night, the angel rose from his bed, and strangled the knight's 
only child who was asleep in the cradle. The hermit was astonished 
at this barbarous return for so much hospitality, but was afraid to make 
any remonstrance to his companion. Next morning they went to- 
another city. Here they were liberally received in the house of an 
opulent citizen ; but in the night the angel rose, and stole a golden cup 
of inestimable value. The hermit now concluded that his companion 
was a Bad Angel. In travelling forward the next morning, they passed 
over a bridge ; about the middle of which they met a poor man, of 
whom the angel asked the way to the next city. Having received the 
desired information, the angel pushed the poor man into the water, 
where he was immediately drowned. In the evening they arrived at 
the house of a rich man ; and begging for a lodging, were ordered to 
sleep in a shed with the cattle. In the morning the angel gave the 
rich man the cup which he had stolen. The hermit, amazed that the 
cup which was stolen from their friend and benefactor should be given 
to one who refused them a lodging, began to be now convinced that 


his companion was the Devil ; and begged to go on alone. But the angel 
said, " Hear me, and depart. When you lived in your hermitage a 
shepherd was killed by his master. He was innocent of the supposed 
offence ; but had he not been then killed, he would have committed 
crimes in which he would have died impenitent. His master endea- 
vours to atone for the murther, by dedicating the remainder of his 
days to alms and deeds of charity. I strangled the child of the knight. 
But know, that the father was so intent on heaping up riches for this 
child, as to neglect those acts of public munificence for which he was 
before so distinguished, and to which he has now returned. I stoje 
the golden cup of the hospitable citizen. But know, that from a life 
of the strictest temperance, he became, in consequence of possessing 
this cup, a perpetual drunkard ; and is now the most abstemious of 
men. I threw the poor man into the water. He was then honest apd 
religious. But know, had he walked one half of a mile further, he 
would have murthered a man in a state of mortal sin. I gave the golden 
cup to the rich man who refused to take us within his roof. He has 
therefore received his reward in this world ; and in the next, will suffer 
the pains of hell for his inhospitality." The hermit fell prostrate at the 
angel's feet; and requesting forgiveness, returned to his hermitage, fully 
convinced of the wisdom and justice of God's government. 

This is the fable of Parnell's HERMIT, which that elegant yet ori- 
ginal writer has heightened with many masterly touches of poetical co- 
louring, and a happier arrangement of circumstances. Among other 
proofs which might be mentioned of Parnell's genius and address in 
treating this subject, by reserving the discovery of the angel to a critical 
period at the close of the fable, he has found means to introduce a 
beautiful description, and an interesting surprise*. In this poem, the 
last instance of the angel's seeming injustice, is that of pushing the 
guide from the bridge into the river. At this, the hermit is unable to 
suppress his indignation. 

Wild sparkling rage inflames the Father's eyes, 
He bursts the bonds of fear, and madly cries, 
"Detested wretch!" But scarce his speech began, 
When the strange partner seem'd no longer man : 
His youthful face grew more serenely sweet; 
His robe turn'd white, and flow'd upon his feet ; 
Fair rounds of radiant points invest his hair ; 
Celestial odours fill the purple air ; 
And wings, whose colours glitter'd on the day, 
Wide at his back their gradual plumes display : 
The form ethereal bursts upon his sight, 
And moves in all the majesty of light. 

* [This idea is not original. M.] 


The same apologue occurs, with some slight additions and variations 
for the worse, in Howell's LETTERS ; who professes to have taken it 
from the speculative sir Philip Herbert's CONCEPTIONS to his Son, a 
book which I have never seen m . These Letters were published about 
the year 1650. It is also found in the DIVINE DIALOGUES of doctor 
Henry More", who has illustrated its important moral with the follow- 
ing fine reflections : " The affairs of this world are like a curious, but 
intricately contrived Comedy ; and we cannot judge of the tendency of 
what is past, or acting at present, before the entrance of the last Act, 
which shall bring in Righteousness in triumph ; who, though she hath 
abided many a brunt, and has been very cruelly and despightfully used 
hitherto in the world, yet at last, according to our desires, we shall see 
the knight overcome the giant. For what is the reason we are so much 
pleased with the reading romances and the fictions of the poets, but 
that here, as Aristotle says, things are set down as they should be; but 
in the true history hitherto of the world, things are recorded indeed as 
they are, but it is but a testimony, that they have not been as they 
should be ? Wherefore, in the upshot of all, when we shall see that 
come to pass, that so mightily pleases us in the reading the most in- 
genious plays and heroic poems, that long-afflicted vertue at last comes 
to the crown, the mouth of all unbelievers must be for ever stopped. 
And for my own part, I doubt not but that it will so come to pass in 
the close of the world. But impatiently to call for vengeance upon 
every enormity before that time, is rudely to overturn the stage before 
the entrance into the fifth act, out of ignorance of the plot of the co- 
medy ; and to prevent the solemnity of the general judgement by more 
paltry and particular executions ." 

Parnell seems to have chiefly followed the story as it is told by this 
Platonic theologist, who had not less imagination than learning. Pope 
used to say, that it was originally written in Spanish. This I do not 
believe ; but from the early connection between the Spaniards and Ara- 
bians, this assertion tends to confirm the suspicion, that it was an ori- 
ental tale. 

CHAP. Ixxxi. A king violates his sister. The child is exposed in a 
chest in the sea ; is christened Gregory by an abbot who takes him up, 
and after .various adventures he is promoted to the popedom. In their 
old age his father and mother go a pilgrimage to Rome, in order to 
confess to this pope, not knowing he was their son, and he being equally 
ignorant that they are his parents; when in the course of the confession, 
a discovery is made on both sides. 

CHAP. Ixxxix. The three rings. 

m Vol. iv. Let. iv. p. 7. edit. 1655. collection of Latin Apologues, quoted 

above, MSS. Harl. 463. fol. 8 a. The 

Part i. p. 321. Dial. ii. edit. Lond. rubric is, De Angela qui duxit Heremitam 
1668. 12mo. I must not forget that it ad diversa Hospitia. 
occurs, as told in our GESTA, among a Ibid. p. 335. 



This story is in the DECAMERON P, and in the CENTO NOVELLE AN- 
TICHE<I: and perhaps in Swift's TALE OF A TUB. 

CHAP. xcv. The tyrant Maxentius. From the GESTA ROMANORUM, 
which are cited. 

I think there is the romance of MAXENCE, Constantine's antagonist. 
CHAP. xcvi. King Alexander places a burning candle in his hall ; 
and makes proclamation, that he will absolve all those who owe him 
forfeitures of life and land, if they will appear before the candle is con- 

CHAP, xcvii. Prodigies before the death of Julius Cesar, who is placed 
in the twenty-second year of the city. From the CHRONICA, as they 
are called. 

CHAP. xcix. A knight saves a serpent who is fighting in a forest 
with a toad r , but is afterwards bit by the toad. The knight languishes 
many days ; and when he is at the point of death, the same serpent, 
which he remembers, enters his chamber, and sucks the poison from 
the wound. 

CHAP. ci. Of Ganterus, who for his prowess in war being elected a 
king of a certain country, is on the night of his coronation conducted 
to a chamber, where at the head of the bed is a fierce lion, at the feet 
a dragon, and on either side a bear, toads, and serpents. He imme- 
diately quitted his new kingdom ; and was quickly elected king of an- 
other country. Going to rest the first night, he was led into a cham- 
ber furnished with a bed richly embroidered, but stuck all over with 
sharp razors. This kingdom he also relinquishes. At length he meets 
a hermit, who gives him a staff, with which he is directed to knock at 
the gate of a magnificent palace seated on a lofty mountain. Here he 
gains admittance, and finds every sort of happiness unembittered with 
the least degree of pain. 

The king means every man advanced to riches and honour, and who 
thinks to enjoy these advantages without interruption and alloy. The 
hermit is religion, the staff penitence, and the palace heaven. 

In a more confined sense, the first part of this apologue may be 
separately interpreted to signify, that a king, when he enters on his im- 
portant charge, ought not to suppose himself to succeed to the privilege 
of an exemption from care, and to be put into immediate possession of 
the highest pleasures, conveniences, and felicities of life ; but to be 
sensible, that from that moment he begins to encounter the greatest 
dangers and difficulties. 

CHAP. cii. Of the lady of a knight who went to the holy land. She 
commits adultery with a clerk skilled in necromancy. Another magU 

p i. 3. attack begins, and of the serpent fighting - 

q Nov. Ixxi. with and being killed by the spider, 

r The stories, perhaps fabulous, of the originate from. Pliny, Nat. Hist. x. 84. 

serpent fighting with his inveterate ene- xx. 13. 

my the weasel, who eats rue before the 

VOL. I. I 


cian discovers her intrigues to the absent knight by means of a polished 
mirror, and his image in wax. 

In Adam Davie's* GEST or romance of ALEXANDER, Nectabanus, a 
king and magician, discovers the machinations of his enemies by em- 
battelling them in figures of wax. This is the most extensive necro- 
mantic operation of the kind that I remember, and must have formed 
a puppet-show equal to the most splendid pantomime. 

Barounes weore whilom wys and gode, 

That this ars s wel undurstode: 

Ac on ther was Neptanamous 

Wis 4 in this ars and malicious : 

Whan kyng other eorl u cam on him to weorre" 

Quyk he loked in the steorre x ; 

Of wax made him popetts y, 

And made heom fyzhte with battes : 

And so he learned,^ vous dy, 

Ay to aquelle 2 hys enemye, 

With charms and with conjurisons : 

Thus he assaied the regiouns, 

That him cam for to asaile, 

In puyr a manyr of bataile b ; 

By cler candel in the nyzt, 

He mad uchon c with othir to fyzt, 

Of alle manere nacyouns, 

That comen by schip or dromouns. 

At the laste, of mony londe 

Kynges therof haden gret onde d , 

Well thritty y-gadred beoth e , 

And by-spekith al his deth f . 

Kyng Philipp & of grete thede 

Maister was of that fede h : 

He was a mon of myzty hond, 

With hem brouzte, of divers lond, 

Nyne and twenty ryche kynges, 

To make on hym bataylynges : 

Neptanamous hyt understod ; 

Ychaunged was al his mod ; 

* [Warton always refers to this Ro- b See Mr. Tyrwhitt'a Chaucer's Cant, 
niance as the composition of AdamDavie, T. ver. 1281. 

but he is certainly mistaken, as proved by each one. 

Ellis, Metr. Rom. See infra, vol. ii. Sect. had great jealousy or anger. 

vi. p. 6. M.] near thirty were gathered, or confe- 

* art, necromancy. * wise. derated. 

u or earl. w war. x stars. all resolved to destroy him. 

y puppets. * conquer. Philip of Macedon. 

* very, real. felde, field, army. 


He was aferde sore of harme : 

Anon he deede 1 caste his charme ; 

His ymage he madde anon, 

And of his barounes everychon, 

And afterward of his fone k ; 

He dude hem to gedere to gon 1 

In a basyn al by charme : 

He sazh on him fel theo harme m ; 

He seyz flye n of his barounes 

Of al his lond distinctiouns, 

He lokid, and kneow in the sterre, 

Of al this kynges theo grete werre , &C.P 

Afterwards he frames an image of the queen Olympias, or Olympia, 
while sleeping, whom he violates in the shape of a dragon. 

Theo lady lyzt<i on hire bedde, 

Yheoled r wel with silken webbe, 

In a chaysel 8 smok scheo lay, 

And yn a mantell of doway : 

Of theo bryztnes of hire face 

Al about schone the place*. 

Herbes he tok in an herber, 

And stamped them in a morter, 

And wrong x hit in a box: 

After he tok virgyn wox 

And made a popet after the quene, 

His ars-table? he can unwrene; 

The quenes name in the wax he wrot, 

Whil hit was sumdel hot : 

In a bed he did dyzt 

Al aboute with candel lyzt, 

1 he did (caused). That semyle was of sy^te; 

k enemies. Ther inne lay that lady gent, 

I he made them fight. That aftere syr Launfal hedde y-sent, 
m he saw the harm fall on, or against That lefsom bemede bryjt : 

himself. Fore hete here clothes down sche dede, 

n saw fly. Almest to here gerdylstede ; 

the great war of all these kings. Than lay sche uncovert: 

p MSS. (Bodl. Bibl.) Laud. I. 74. f. 54. Sche was as whyt as lylye yn Maye, 

II laid. Or snow that sneweth yn wynterys day; 

* covered. He seyghe nevere non so pert, 

* In the romance of Atis et Porphilion. The rede rose whan sche ys newe 
Cod. Reg. Par. 7191. A3ens here rode nes nau^t of hewe, 

Un chemis de chaisil I dare welle say yn sert 

De fil, et d'oevre moult soutll. He ; e here Sch n aS g Id Wyre ' &C ' 

* Perhaps in Syr Launfal, the same situ- y n f g degcribed ab f> 55 . 
ation is more elegantly touched. MSS. 

Cotton. Calig. A: 2. fol. 35 a. Of gold he made a table 

Al ful of steorron [stars]. 
In the pavyloun he lond a bed or prys, 

I-heled with purpur bys An astrolabe is intended. 



And spreynd* theron of the herbus: 

Thus charmed Neptanabus. 

The lady in hir bed lay 

Abouzt mydnyzt, ar the day a , 

Whiles he made conjuryng, 

Scheo b sawe fle c , in her metyng d , 

Hire thought, a dragoun lyzt, 

To hire chaumbre he made his flyzt, 

In he cam to her bour 

And crept undur hir covertour, 

Mony sithes 6 he hire kust f 

And fast in his armes prust, 

And went away, so dragon wyld, 

.And grete he left hire with child.s 

Theocritus, Virgil, and Horace, have left instances of incantations 
conducted by figures in wax. In the beginning of the last century, 
many witches were executed for attempting the lives of persons, by 
fabricating representations of them in wax and clay. King James the 
First, in his DAEMONOLOGIE, speaks of this practice as very common ; 
the efficacy of which he peremptorily ascribes to the power of the 
devil h . His majesty's arguments, intended to prove how the ma- 
gician's image operated on the person represented, are drawn from the 
depths of moral, theological, physical, and metaphysical knowledge. 
The' Arabian magic abounded with these infatuations, which were 
partly founded on the doctrine of sympathy. 

But to return to the GESTA ROMANORUM. In this story one of the 
magicians is styled Magister peritus, and sometimes simply Magister ; 
that is, a cunning-man. The title Magister in our universities has its 
origin from the use of this word in the middle ages. With what pro- 
priety it is now continued I will not say. Mystery, anciently used for 
a particular art 1 , or skill in general, is a specious and easy corruption 

* sprinkled. a before day. For he did all hys thynges faire, 
b she. c fly. And was curteis and debonaire. 

* kfesed'her Ibid- co1 ' 2< l cou ! d not resist the tem P t - 

* Fol. 57. The text is here given from ation of transcribing this gallantry of a 
MSS. BoDL.utsupr. Compared with MSS. dra S n ' Gowers whole description of this 
Hospit. Lincoln. 150. See Gower's Con- interview as will appear on comparison, 
fess.Amant. lib. vi. fol. cxxxviii. a. col. 1 st ? ms to be take f n ^om Beauvais, " Nee- 
' tabanus se transformat in ilium dracoms 

seductiorem tractum, tricliniumque pene- 

And through the crafte of artemage, trat reptabundus, specie spectabilis, turn 

Of waxe he forged an ymage, &c. majestate totius corporis, turn etiam sibi- 

Gower's dragon, in approaching the queen, lonun acumin f adeo te ' ribil ut P a " e ! es 

is courteis and debonaire. etlam ac / unda ^ enta dom ; US f HV , 

rentur, &c. Hist. Specul. fol. 41 b. ut 

With al the chere that he maie, supr. See Aul. Gell. Noct.Att. vii. 1. 
Towarde the bedde ther as she laie, h Edit. 1603. 4to. B. ii. ch. iv. p. 44 seq. 

Till he came to hir the beddes side ' For instance, " the Art and Mystery of 

And she hue still, and nothyng cride ; Printing." 


of Maistery or Mastery, the English of the Latin MAGISTERIUM, or 
Artificium ; in French MaistrisCj Mestier, Mestrie, and in Italian Ma- 
gisterio, with the same sense k . In the French romance of CLEOMEDES, 
a physician is called simply Maitre l . 

Lie sont de chou qu'il n'y a 

Peril et que bien garira : 

Car il li MAISTRE ainsi dit leur ont. 

And the medical art is styled Mestrie. "Quant il (the surgeon) aperut 
que c'estoit maladie non mie curable par nature et par MESTRIE, et par 
medicine 1 "," &c. Maistrise is used for art or workmanship, in the 
CHRONICON of Saint Denis, " Entre les autres presens, li envoia une 
horologe de laton, ouvrez par marveilleuse MAISTRISE n ." That the 
Latin MAGISTERIUM has precisely the same sense appears from an ac- 
count of the contract for building the conventual church of Casino in 
Italy, in the year 1349. The architects agree to build the church in the 
form of the Lateran at Rome. " Et in casu si aliquis [defectus] in eorum 
MAGISTERIO appareret, promiserunt resarcire ." Chaucer, in the Ro- 
MAUNT OF THE ROSE, uses MAISTRISE for artifice and workmanship. 

Was made a toure of grete maistrise, 
A fairer saugh no man with sight, 
Large, and wide, and of grete might P, &c. 

And, in the same poem, in describing the shoes of MIRTH, 
And shode he was, with grete maistrie, 
With shone decopid and with lace. 1 * 

MAYSTRYE occurs in the description of a lady's saddle, in SYR LAUN- 
FAL'S romance, 

Here sadelle was semyly sett, 

The sambus r were grene felvet, 
I-paynted with ymagerye ; 

k In a statute of Henry the Eighth, in- ex aurichalco arte mechanicamiri&ce corn- 

stead of the words in the last note, we have positum." 

" The Science and Craft of Printing." Ann. Hist. Casin. torn. ii. p. 545. coL iu 

Reg. 25. A.D. 1533. For many reasons, Chart, ann. 1349. 
Mystery, answering to the Latin Myste- p R. R. v. 4172. q Ibid. v. 842. 

rium, never could have been originally ap- * I know not what ornament or imple- 

plied in these cases. [Menage, however, ment of the ancient horse-furniture is here 

gives Ministerium as the origin of Mestiero, intended, unless it is a saddle-cloth ; nor 

and Metier-, so that our word Mystery, in can I find this word in any glossary. But 

some of the senses in which it is used, is Sambue occurs, evidently under the very 

a confusion of Ministerium, Magisterium, same signification, in the beautiful manu- 

and Mysterium. Such is the tendency of script French romance of Garin, written 

similar words to coalesce. See Additional in the twelfth century. 
Notes to Tooke's Diversions of Purley, Li palefrois gur CQ} , ft dame gist 

' Estoit lus blanc ue nule flor de KSJ 

i** TSQO 

i MSS. Cod Reg. Paris, 7539. Le ^ yaut lg solg . g . 

Mirac. S. Ludov. edit, reg p. 438. E , g , j / h . 

n Tom. v. Collect. Histor. Franc, pag. 

254. Thus expressed in the Latin An- " The palfrey on which the lady sate, was 

nalcs Francice, 'ibid. p. 56. " Horologium whiter than any flower de lis : the bridle 



The bordure was of belles 8 

Of ryche golde and nothyng ellea 

That any man my$te aspye : 
In the arsouns* before and behynde 
Were twey stones of Ynde 

Gay for the maystrye. 
The paytrelle u of here palfraye 
Was worth an erldome, &c. 

" In the saddle-bow were two jewels of India, very beautiful to be seen, 
in consequence of the great art with which they were wrought*." Chau- 
cer calls his Monke, 

fayre for the Maistrie, 

An outrider, that lovid veneryJ 

Fayre for the Maistrie means, skilled in the Maistrie of the game. La 
Maistrise du Venerie, or the science of hunting, then so much a fa- 
vorite, as simply and familiarly to be called the maistrie. From many 
other instances which I could produce, I will only add, that the search 
of the Philosopher's Stone is called in the Latin Geber, INVESTIGATIO 

was worth a thousand Parisian sols, and 
a richer Sanbue never was seen." The 
French word, however, is properly writ- 
ten Sambue, and is not uncommon in old 
French wardrobe-rolls, where it appears 
to be a female saddle-cloth, or housing. 
So in Le Roman de la Rose, 
Comme royne fust vestue, 
Et chevauchast a grand SAMBUE. 
The Latin word, and in the same restrain- 
ed sense, is sometimes Sambua, but most 
commonly Sambuca. Ordericus Vitalis, 
lib. viii. p. 694. edit. Par. 1619. "Mannos 
et inulas cum SAMBUCIS muliebribus pro- 
spexit." Vincent of Beauvais says, that the 
Tartarian women, when they ride, have 
CAMBUCAS of painted leather, embroider- 
ed with gold, hanging down on either side 
of the horse. Specul.Hist.x.85. But Vin- 
cent's CAMBUCAS was originally written 
qambucas, or Sambucas. To such an enor- 
mity this article of the trappings of female 
horsemanship had arisen in the middle 
ages, that Frederick king of Sicily restrain- 
ed it by a sumptuary law; which enjoined, 
that no woman, even of the highest rank, 
should presume to use a Sambuca, or sad- 
dle-cloth, in which were gold, silver, or 
pearls, &c. Constitut. cap. 92. Queen 
Olympias, in Davie's GEST of Alexander, 
has a Sambue of silk, fol. 54. [infra, vol. ii. 
Sect. vi. p. 7.] 

A mule also whyte so mylke, 
With sadel of golde, sambue of sylke, &c. 
Of this fashion I have already given 

many instances. The latest I remember 
is in the year 1503, at the marriage of 
the princess Margaret. " In specyall the 
Erie of Northumberlannd ware on a good- 
ly gowne of tynsill, fourred with hermynes. 
He was mounted upon a fayre courser, hys 
harnays ofgoldsmyth worke, and thorough 
that sam was sawen small belles, that maid 
a mellodyous noyse." Leland.Coll. ad calc. 
torn. iii. p. 276. 

In the Nonnes Preestes Prologue, Chau- 
cer, from the circumstance of the Monke's 
bridle being decorated with bells, takes 
occasion to put an admirable stroke of 
humour and satire into the mouth of the 
Hoste, which at once ridicules that incon- 
sistent piece of affectation, and censures 
the monk for the dullness of his tale. Ver. 

Swiche talking is not worth a boterflie, 
For therin is ther no disport ne game : 
Therefore sire monke, dan Piers by your 


I pray you hertely tell us somwhat elles, 
Forsikerly, n'ere clinking of your belles 
That on your bridel hange on every side, 
By heven king that for us alle dide, 
I shoulde or this have fallen down for 

Although the slough had been never so 


1 saddle-bow. See Sect. iv. p. 167 of this 

" breast-plate. 

MS. fol. 40 a. 

y Prol. v. 165. 


CHAP. ciii. The merchant who sells three wise maxims to the wife 
of Domitian. 

CHAP. civ. A knight in hunting meets a lion, from whose foot he 
extracts a thorn. Afterwards he becomes an outlaw ; and being seized 
by the king, is condemned to be thrown into a deep pit to be devoured 
by a hungry lion. The lion fawns on the knight, whom he perceives 
to be the same that drew the thorn from his paw. Then said the king, 
" I will learn forbearance from the beasts. As the lion has spared your 
life, when it was in his power to take it, I therefore grant you a free 
pardon. Depart, and be admonished hence to live virtuously." 

The learned reader must immediately recollect a similar story of one 
Androclus, who being exposed to fight with wild beasts in the Roman 
amphitheatre, is recognised and unattacked by a most savage lion, 
whom he had formerly healed exactly in the same manner. But I be- 
lieve the whole is nothing more than an oriental apologue on gratitude, 
written much earlier ; and that it here exists in its original state. An- 
droclus's story is related by Aulus Gellius, on the authority of a Greek 
writer, one Appion, called Plistonices, who flourished under Tiberius. 
The character of Appion, with which Gellius prefaces this tale, in some 
measure invalidates his credit; notwithstanding he pretends to have 
been an eye-witness of this extraordinary fact. " Ejus libri," says Gel- 
lius, " non incelebres feruntur ; quibus, omnium ferme quae mirifica in 
JEgypto visuntur audiunturque, historia comprehenditur. Sed in his 
quae audivisse et legisse sese dicit, fortasse a vitio studioque ostentationis 
fit loquacior 2 -," &c. Had our compiler of the GESTA taken this story 
from Gellius, it is probable he would have told it with some of the 
same circumstances; especially as Gellius is a writer whom he fre- 
quently follows, and even quotes, and to whom, on this occasion, he 
might have been obliged for a few more strokes of the marvellous. 
But the two writers agree only in the general subject. Our compiler's 
narrative has much more simplicity than that of Gellius ; and contains 
marks of eastern manners and life. Let me add, that the oriental fa- 
bulists are fond of illustrating and enforcing the duty of gratitude, by 
feigning instances of the gratitude of beasts towards men. And of this 
the present compilation, which is strongly tinctured with orientalism, 
affords several other proofs. 

CHAP. cv. Theodosius the blind emperor ordained, that the cause 
of every injured person should be heard on ringing a bell placed in a 
public part of his palace. A serpent had a nest near the spot where 
the bell- rope fell. In the absence of the serpent, a toad took possession 
of her nest. The serpent twisting herself round the rope, rang the 
bell for justice ; and by the emperor's special command the toad was 
killed. A few days afterwards, as the king was reposing on his couch, 
the serpent entered the chamber, bearing a precious stone in her mouth. 

x Noct. Attic, lib. v. cap. xiv. See an- an eye-witness, ibid. 1. vii. cap. viii. It is 
other fabulous story, of which Appion was of a boy beloved by a dolphin. 


The serpent creeping up to the emperor's face, laid the precious stone 
on his eyes, and glided out of the apartment. Immediately the empe- 
ror was restored to his sight. 

This circumstance of the Bell of Justice occurs in the real history 
of some eastern monarch, whose name I have forgot. 

In the Arabian philosophy, serpents, either from the brightness of 
their eyes, or because they inhabit the cavities of the earth, were con- 
sidered as having a natural or occult connexion with precious stones. 
In Alphonsus's CLERICALIS DISCIPLINA, a snake is mentioned, whose 
eyes were real jacinths. In Alexander's romantic history, he is said to 
have found serpents in the vale of Jordian, with collars of huge eme- 
ralds growing on their necks a . The toad, under a vulgar indiscrimi- 
nating idea, is ranked with the reptile race : and Shakspeare has a 
beautiful comparison on the traditionary notion, that the toad has a 
rich gem inclosed within its head. Milton gives his serpent eyes of 
carbuncle b . 

CHAP. cvi. The three fellow-travellers, who have only one loaf of 

This apologue is in Alphonsus. 

CHAP. cvii. There was an image in the city of Rome, which stretched 
forth its right hand, on the middle finger of which was written STRIKE 
HERE. For a long time none could understand the meaning of this 
mysterious inscription. At length a certain subtle Clerk, who came to 
see this famous image, observed, as the sun shone against it, the shadow 
of the inscribed finger on the ground at some distance. He immediately 
took a spade, and began to dig exactly on that spot. He came at length 
to a flight of steps which descended far under ground, and led him to a 
stately palace. Here he entered a hall, where he saw a king and queen 
sitting at table, with their nobles and a multitude of people, all clothed 
in rich garments. But no person spake a word. He looked towards 
one corner, where he saw a polished carbuncle, which illuminated the 
whole room c . In the opposite corner he perceived the figure of a man 
standing, having a bended bow with an arrow in his hand, as prepared 

Vincent Beauvais, Specul. Hist. lib. Iflorysched with ryche amalle 3 ; 

iv. c. 58. fol. 42. a. Hys eyn were carbonkeles bry$t, 

b Parad. Lost, ix. 500. As the mone 4 they schon any3t, 

c See infra, vol. ii. Sect, xxviii. p. 412. That spreteth out ovyre alle : 

So in the romance, or Lay, of Syr Laimfal, Alysaundre the conqueroure, 

MSS. Cotton. Calig. A. 2. fol. 35. a. Ne kyng Artoure yn hys most honour 

And when they come in the forest an hya, ^ e l 1 ^? 6 no n scw y<*e juelle. 

A ravyloun yteld he sy 3 : He toncl y n the pavyloun, 

The pavyloun was wrouth forsothe, ywys, The kvn S es dou 3 tere of Olyroun, 

Alle of werk of Sarsynys 1 , Dame Tryamoure that hyjte, 

The pomelles 2 of crystalle. Here facl y r was k y n S of Fayrye. 

On the top was a beast [an eagle.-M.] f A , n * in th , e /"iterative romance, called 

the Sege of Jerusalem, MSS. Cott. Calig. 
Of bournede golde, ryche and good, A. 2. fol. 122. b. 

J Saracen-work. 3 balls, pinnacles. 3 enamel. 4 moon< 


to shoot. On his forehead was written, " I am, who am. Nothing can 
escape my stroke, not even yonder carbuncle which shines so bright." 
The Clerk beheld all with amazement ; and entering a chamber, saw the 
most beautiful ladies working at the loom in purple d . But all was si- 
lence. He then entered a stable full of the most excellent horses and 
asses : he touched some of them, and they were instantly turned into 
stone. He next surveyed all the apartments of the palace, which 
abounded with all that his wishes could desire. He again visited the 
hall, and now began to reflect how he should return ; " but," says he, 
" my report of all these wonders will not be believed, unless I carry 
something back with me." He therefore took from the principal table 
a golden cup and a golden knife, and placed them in his bosom ; when 
the man who stood in the corner with the bow, immediately shot at the 
carbuncle, which he shattered into a thousand pieces. At that moment 
the hall became dark as night. In this darkness not being able to find 
his way, he remained in the subterraneous palace, and soon died a mi- 
serable death. 

In the MORALISATION of this story, the steps by which the Clerk 
descends into the earth are supposed to be the Passions. The palace, 
so richly stored, is the world with all its vanities and temptations. The 
figure with the bow bent is Death, and the carbuncle is Human Life. 
He suffers for his avarice in coveting and seizing what was not his own ; 
and no sooner has he taken the golden knife and cup, that is, enriched 
himself with the goods of this world, than he is delivered up to the 
gloom and horrors of the grave. 

Tytus tarriedde no3te 5 for that, but to the The lady was clad yn purpere palle. 

tempulle sode. 

That was rayled in the roofe with rubyes Anciently Pallium, as did Purpura, sig- 

ryc h e nified in general any rich cloth. Thus 

Withe perles and with perytotes 6 alle the ther e were saddles, de pallw et ebore ; a 

place sette, bed, de pauioi a cope, de palho, &c. &c. 

That glystered as coles in the fyre, on the See Dufresne, Lat. Gloss. V. PALLIUM. 

goideryche- And PELLUM, its corruption. In old 

The dores withe dyamoundes dryvene French, to cover a hall with tapestry was 

were thykke, ' called pallet: So in Syr Launfal, ut supr. 

And made also merveylously withe mar- fol. 39. b. 

gery 7 perles, T , ha]le agrayde and hele [cover] 
That evur lemede the Iy3te, and as a lampe J fche wa } les 

shewed: With clodes [clothes], and with ryche 

The clerkes hadde none othtir Iy3te. pa lles, 

d The original is, " mulieres pulcher- A^ens [against] my Lady Tryamoure. 

rimas in purpura et pallo operantes in- ^.^ ^ iUugtrate<| the former mean . 

ventt" fol. L. a. col 1 This "y mean . , A Davie>s Gest of Alexander 
either the sense in the text, or that the * 

ladies were cloathed in purpura et pallo, a 

phrase which I never saw before in barba- Her bed was made forsothe 

rous latinity ; but which tallies with the With pallis and with riche clothe, 

old English expression purple and pall. The chambre was hangid with clothe of 
This is sometimes written purple pall. As gold. fol. 57. 

in Syr Launfal, ut supr. fol. 40. a. 

* Nought. 6 On the finger of Bccket, when he was killed, was a jewel called 

Peretot. Monast. Angl. i. 6. 7 margavitcs. 


Spenser in the FAERIE QUEENE, seems to have distantly remembered 
this fable, where a fiend expecting sir Guyon will be tempted to snatch 
some of the treasures of the subterraneous HOUSE OF RICHESSE, which 
are displayed in his view, is prepared to fasten upon him. 

Thereat the fiend his gnashing teeth did grate, 
And griev'd, so long to lack his greedie pray ; 
For well he weened that so glorious bayte 
Would tempt his guest to take thereof assay : 
Had he so doen, he had him snatcht away 
More light than culver in the faucon's fist. 6 

This story was originally invented of pope Gerbert, or Sylvester the 
Second, who died in the year 1003. He was eminently learned in the 
mathematical sciences, and on that account was styled a magician. 
William of Malmesbury is, I believe, the first writer now extant by 
whom it is recorded ; and he produces it partly to show, that Gerbert 
was not always successful in those attempts which he so frequently 
practised to discover treasures hid in the earth, by the application 
of the necromantic arts. I will translate Malmesbury 's narration of 
this fable, as it varies in some of the circumstances, and has some 
heightenings of the fiction. " At Rome there was a brazen statue, 
extending the forefinger of the right hand; and on its forehead was 
written Strike here. Being suspected to conceal a treasure, it had re- 
ceived many bruises from the credulous and ignorant, in their endea- 
vours to open it. At length Gerbert unriddled the mystery. At noon- 
day observing the reflection of the forefinger on the ground, he marked 
the spot. At night he came to the place, with a page carrying a lamp. 
There by a magical operation he opened a wide passage in the earth, 
through which they both descended, and came to a vast palace. The 
walls, the beams, and the whole structure, were of gold : they saw 
golden images of knights playing at chess, with a king and queen of 
gold at a banquet, with numerous attendants in gold, and cups of im- 
mense size and value. In a recess was a carbuncle, whose lustre illu- 
minated the whole palace ; opposite to which stood a figure with a bended 
bow. As they attempted to touch some of the rich furniture, all the 
golden images seemed to rush upon them. Gerbert was too wise to 
attempt this a second time ; but the page was bold enough to snatch 
from the table a golden knife of exquisite workmanship. At that mo- 
ment, all the golden images rose up with a dreadful noise ; the figure 
with the bow shot at the carbuncle, and a total darkness ensued. The 
page then replaced the knife, otherwise, they both would have suffered 
a cruel death." Malmesbury afterwards mentions a brazen bridge, 
framed by the enchantments of Gerbert, beyond which were golden 
horses of a gigantic size, with riders of gold richly illumiiialed by the 

B. ii. C. vii. st. 34. 


most serene meridian sun. A large company attempt to pass the bridge, 
with a design of stealing some pieces of the gold. Immediately the 
bridge rose from its foundations, and stood perpendicular on one end : 
a brazen man appeared from beneath it, who struck the water with a 
mace of brass, and the sky was overspread with the most horrible gloom. 
Gerbert, like some other learned necromancers of the Gothic ages, was 
supposed to have fabricated a brazen head under the influence of cer- 
tain planets, which answered questions. But I forbear to suggest any 
more hints for a future collection of Arabian tales. I shall only add 
Malmesbury's account of the education of Gerbert, which is a curious 
illustration of what has been often inculcated in these volumes, con- 
cerning the introduction of romantic fiction into Europe f . "Gerbert, 
a native of France, went into Spain for the purpose of learning astro- 
logy, and other sciences of that cast, of the Saracens ; who, to this day, 
occupy the upper regions of Spain. They are seated in the metropolis 
of Seville ; where, according to the customary practice of their country, 
they study the arts of divination and enchantment. - Here Gerbert 
soon exceeded Ptolemy in the astrolabe, Alchind in astronomy, and 
Julius Firmicus in fatality. Here he learned the meaning of the flight 
and language of birds, and was taught how to raise spectres from hell. 
Here he acquired whatever human curiosity has discovered for the de- 
struction or convenience of mankind. I say nothing of his knowledge 
in arithmetic, music, and geometry ; which he so fully understood as to 
think them beneath his genius, and which he yet with great industry 
introduced into France, where they had been long forgotten. He cer- 
tainly was the first who brought the algorithm from the Saracens, and 
who illustrated it with such rules as the most studious in that science 
cannot explain. He lodged with a philosopher of that sects," &c. 

I conclude this chapter with a quotation from the old metrical ro- 
mance of SYR LYBEAUS DESCONUS, where the knight, in his attempt 
to disenchant the Lady of Sinadone, after entering the hall of the castle 
of the necromancers, is almost in similar circumstances with our sub- 
terraneous adventurers. The passage is rich in Gothic imageries ; and 
the most striking part of the poem, which is mentioned by Chaucer as 
a popular romance. 

Syre Lybeauus, kny^t corteys h , 

Rod ynto the palys, 
And at the halle 

1 See Diss. Land vol. ii. Sect. xv. p. 173. vats has transcribed all that William of 

De Gest. Reg. Angl. lib. ii. cap. 10. Malmesbury has here said about Gerbert, 

p. 36. a. b. 37. a. b. edit. Savil. Lond. Specul Histor. Lib. xxiv. c. 98. seq. f. 344. 

1596. fol. Afterwards Malmesbury men- a. Compare Platina, Fit. Ponttf. fol. 122. 

tions his horologe, which was not of the edit. 1485. See also L'Histoire Literaire 

nature of the modern clock ; but which de France, by the Benedictines, torn. vj. 

yet is recorded as a wonderful invention ad calc. 

by his cotemporary Ditmar, Chron. Lib. h courteous. 

vi. fol. 83, edit. 1580. Vincent of Beau- ' alighted. 


Trompes, shalmuses k , 

He sey$, befor the hejgh deys 1 , 

Stonde in hys sy^te. 
Amydde the halle flore, 
A fere, stark and store 1 ", 

Was ly^t, and brende bry$t n . 
Nere the dore he $ede, 
And laddeP yn hys stede 

That wont was helpe hym yn fy$t. 
Lybeauus innere 1 * gan pace 
To se eche a place 1 ", 

The hales 8 yn the halle, 
Of mayne more ne lasse 
Ne sawe he body ne face 4 , 

But menstrales yclodeth yn palle, &c. u 
So much melody e 
Was never withinne walle. 

Before eche menstrale stod 
A torche fayre and good w , 
Brennynge fayre and bry^t. 

Innere more he $ede, 
To wyte, with egre mode 
Ho scholde x with hym fy$t : 

He }ede ynto the corneres, 
And lokede on the pylers, 
That selcouth were of sy$t, 

Of jaspere and of fyn crystalle, &C-. 
The dores were of bras ; 
The wyndowes were of glas 

Florysseth with imagery e y : 
The halle ypaynted was 2 , 
No rychere never ther nas 

That he hadde seye with eye*. 
He sette hym an that deys b , 
The menstrales were yn pes c , 

That were so good and trye d . 

k instruments of music. w a torch fair and good. 

i he saw at the high table. * to know, in angry mood what knight 

m a fire, large and strong. would, &c. 

n lighted, and burned bright. y painted glass. 

yede, went into the door of the hall, z the walls were painted with histories, 
with his horse. a had seen. 

p led. b he sate down in the principal seat. 

q farther in. c were suddenly silent. 

T to see, to view, every place or thing. d tried, excellent. Chaucer, Rim. Sir 

* perhaps, holes, i. e. corners. Thop. p. 146. Urr. v. 3361. 

1 he saw no man. 

- clothed in rich attire. Wlth fin S er that 1S trte ' 


The torches that brende bry^t 6 

Quenchede anon ry$t f ; 

The menstrales were aweye * : 

Dores, and wyndowes alle, 

Beten yn the halle 

As hyt were voys of thundere, &c. 

As he sat ther dysmayde, 

And held hymself betrayde, 

Stedes herde he naye, &c. h 

This castle is called, " A palys queynte of gynne," and, " be nygre- 
mauncye ymaketh of fayryeV 

CHAP cviii. The mutual fidelity of two thieves. 
CHAP. cix. The chest and the three pasties. 

A like story is in Boccace's DECAMERON^ in the CENTO No VELLE 
ANTicHE 1 , and in Gower's CONFESSIO AMANTis m . 

The story, however, as it stands in Gower, seems to be copied from 
one which is told by the hermit Barlaam to king Avenamore, in the 
spiritual romance, written originally in Greek about the year 800, by 
Joannes Damascenus a Greek monk n , and translated into Latin before 
the thirteenth century, entitled BARLAAM and JOSAPHAT. But 
Gower's immediate author, if not Boccace, was perhaps Vincent of 
Beauvais, who wrote about the year 1290, and who has incorporated 
Damascenus's history of Barlaam and JosaphatP, who were canonised, 
into his SPECULUM HISTORIALE^. As Barlaam's fable is probably the 
remote but original source of Shakspeare's CASKETS in the MER- 
CHANT OF VENICE, I will give the reader a translation of the passage 
in which it occurs, from the Greek original, never yet printed. " The 
king commanded four chests to be made ; two of which were covered 
with gold, and secured by golden locks, but filled with the rotten bones 
of human carcasses. The other two were overlaid with pitch, and 
bound with rough cords ; but replenished with pretious stones and the 
most exquisite gems, and with ointments of the richest odour. He 
called his nobles together ; and placing these chests before them, asked 
which they thought the most valuable. They pronounced those with 
the golden coverings to be the most pretious, supposing they were 
made to contain the crowns and girdles of the king 1 ". The two chests 
covered with pitch they viewed with contempt. Then said the king, I 

* burned so bright. p It is extant in Surius, and other col 

f were instantly quenched, or extin- lections, 
giiished. q De Rege Auemur, &c. Lib. xiv. f. 

g vanished away. 196. Ven. 1591. It contains sixty-four 

h MSS. Cotton. Calig. A. 2. fol. 52 b. seq. chapters. 

Ibid. f. 52 b. k x. 1. r In Dr. Johnson's abridgement of a tale 

1 Nov. Ixv. m Lib. v. fol. 96 a. like this from Boccace, which he supposes 

n See Joan. Damasceni Opera nonnul. to have been Shakspeare's original, the 

Histor. ad calc. pag. 12. Basil. 1548. fol. king says, that in one of the caskets was 

The chests are here called Arcella. "contained his crown, sceptre, and jew- 

See infra, vol. ii. Sect. xix. p. 237 ; els," &c. See Steevens's Shakspeare, vol. 

Sect, xxxiii. p. 493. iii. p. 255. edit. 1779. 


presumed what would be your determination ; for ye look with the 
eyes of sense. But to discern baseness or value, which are hid within, 
we must look with the eyes of the mind. He then ordered the golden 
chests to be opened, which exhaled an intolerable stench, and filled the 
beholders with horror 8 ." In the METRICAL LIVES OF THE SAINTS, 
written about the year 1300, these chests are called four fates, that is 
four vats or vessels*. 

I make no apology for giving the reader a translation from the same 

Greek original, which is now before me, of the story of the Boy told in 

the DECAMERON. " A king had an only son. As soon as he was 

born, the physicians declared, that if he was allowed to see the sun, or 

any fire, before he arrived at the age of twelve years, he would be 

blind. The king commanded an apartment to be hewed within a rock, 

into which no light could enter ; and here he shut up the boy, totally 

in the dark, yet with proper attendants, for twelve years ; at the end 

of which time, he brought him abroad from his gloomy chamber, and 

placed in his view, men, women, gold, pretious stones, rich garments, 

chariots of exquisite workmanship drawn by horses with golden bridles, 

heaps of purple tapestry, armed knights on horseback, oxen and sheep. 

These were all distinctly pointed out to the youth : but being most 

pleased with the women, he desired to know by what name they were 

called. An esquire of the king jocosely told him, that they were devils 

who catch men. Being brought to the king, he was asked which he 

liked best of all the fine things he had seen. He replied, the devils 

who catch men" &c. I need not enlarge on Boccace's improvements". 

This romantic legend of Barlaam and Josaphat, which is a history of 

considerable length, is undoubtedly the composition of one who had an 

intercourse with the East ; and from the strong traces which it contains 

of the oriental mode of moralising, appears plainly to have been written, 

if not by the monk whose name it bears, at least by some devout and 

learned ascetic of the Greek church, and probably before the tenth 


PHAT, as one of the manuscripts which he saw in Nettley- abbey near 
Southampton w . 

CHAP. ex. The life of the knight Placidus, or Placidas x , afterwards 
called Eustacius. 

It occurs in Caxton's GOLDEN LEGENDE?. Among the Cotton ma- 
nuscripts there is a metrical legend or romance on this story 1 . 

1 MSS. Laud. C. 72. Bibl. Bodl. Com- w Collectan. torn. iii. p. 149. edit. 1770. 

pare Caxton's Golden Legende, fol. x Sir Placidas is the name of a knight 

ccclxxxxiii. b. And Surius, Vit. Sanctor. in the Faerie Queene. 
Novembr. 27. Ann. 383. pag. 560. Colon. y Fol. cccxxiii. b. See infra, vol. ii. 

Agrippin. 1618. Sect, xxvii. p. 381. note m ; and Metric. 

1 MSS. Bodl. 779. f. 292 b. Lives S. MSS. Bodl. 779. f. 164 a. 

u This fable occurs in an old Collection z Calig. A. 2. fol. 135 b. This is a trans- 

of Apologues above cited, MSS. Harl. 463. lation from the French. MSS. Reg. Paris, 
fol. 2 a. Cod. 30.31. 


CHAP. cxi. The classical story of Argus and Mercury, with some 
romantic additions. Mercury comes to Argus in the character of a 
minstrel, and lulls him to sleep by telling him tales and singing, incepit 
more histrionico fabulas dicere, et plerumque cantare. 

CHAP.CXU. The son of king Gorgonius is beloved by his step-mother. 
He is therefore sent to seek his fortune in a foreign country, where he 
studies physic ; and returning, heals his father of a dangerous disease, 
who recovers at the sight of him. The step-mother, hearing of his 
return, falls sick, and dies at seeing him. 

CHAP, cxiii. The tournaments of the rich king Adonias. A party 
of knights arrive the first day, who lay their shields aside, in one place. 
The same number arrives the second day, each of whom chuses his 
antagonist by touching with his spear the shield of one of the first day's 
party, not knowing the owner. 

The most curious anecdote of chivalry, now on record, occurs in the 
ecclesiastical history of Spain. Alphonsus the Ninth, about the year 
1214, having expelled the Moors from Toledo, endeavoured to establish 
the Roman missal in the place of saint Isidore's. This alarming inno- 
vation was obstinately opposed by the people of Toledo ; and the king 
found that his project would be attended with almost insuperable diffi- 
culties. The contest at length between the two missals grew so serious, 
that it was mutually resolved to decide the controversy, not by a theo- 
logical disputation, but by single combat ; in which the champion of 
the Toletan missal proved victorious*. 

Many entertaining passages relating to trials by single combat may 
be seen in the old Imperial and Lombard laws. In Caxton's BOKE OF 
in the year 1489, and translated from the French of Christine of Pisa, 
many of the chapters towards the end are compiled from that singular 
monument of Gothic legislation. 

CHAP. cxv. An intractable elephant is lulled asleep in a forest by 
the songs and blandishments of two naked virgins. One of them cuts 
off his head, the other carries a bowl of his blood to the king. Rex 
vero gavisus est valde, et statim fecit fieri PURPURAM, et multa alia, de 
eodem sanguine. 

In this wild tale, there are circumstances enough of general analogy, 
if not of peculiar parallelism, to recall to my memory the following 
beautiful description, in the manuscript romance of SYR LAUNFAL, 
of two damsels, whom the knight unexpectedly meets in a desolate 

As he sat yn sorow and sore, 
He sawe come out of holtes hore 
Gentylle maydenes two ; 

a See the Mozarabes, or Missal of Saint mand of Cardinal Ximenes, A. D. 1500. 
Isidore, printed at Toledo, by the com- fol. 


Hare kerteles were of Inde sandel b 
I-lased c smalle, jolyf and welle ; 

Ther my}t d noon gay ere go. 
Hare manteles were of grene felwet 6 
Ybordured with gold ry^t welle ysette, 

I-pelured f with grys and gro 17 ; 
Hare heddys h were dy^t welle withalle, 
Everych hadde oon a jolyf coronalle, 

With syxty gemmys and mo 1 . 
Hare faces were whyt as snow on downe, 
Hare rode k was red, here eyn were browne, 

I sawe never non swyche 1 . 
That oon bare of gold a basyn, 
That other a towayle whyt and fyn, 

Of selk that was good and ryche. 
Hare kercheves were welle schyre m 
Arayd with ryche gold wyre, &c. n 

CHAP. cxvi. The queen of Pepin king of France died in childbed, 
leaving a son. He married a second wife, who bore a son within a 
year. These children were sent abroad to be nursed. The surviving 
queen, anxious to see her child, desired that both the boys might be 
brought home. They were so exceedingly alike, that the one could 
not be distinguished from the other, except by the king. The mother 
begged the king to point out her own son. This he refused to do, till 
they were both grown up, lest she should spoil him by too fond a par- 
tiality. Thus they were both properly treated with uniform affection, 
and without excess of indulgence. 

A favorite old romance is founded on the indistinctible likeness of 
two of Charlemagne's knights, Amys and Amelion ; originally cele- 
brated by Turpin, and placed by Vincent of Beauvais under the reign 
of Pepin . 

CHAP, cxvii. The law of the emperor Frederick, that whoever rescued 
a virgin from a rape might claim her for his wife. 

CHAP, cxviii. A knight being in Egypt, recovers a thousand talents 
which he had entrusted to a faithless friend, by the artifice of an old 

This tale is in Alphonsus; and in the CENTO NOVELLE AN- 

CHAP. cxix. A king had an oppressive Seneschal, who passing 

b Indian silk. CendaL Fr. See Du- h their heads, 

fresne, Lat. Gl. V. CENDALUM. * more. 

laced. k ruddiness. 

d there might. ' such. 

e velvet. m cut. 

f furred, pelura, pellis. MSS. Cotton. Calig. A. 2. fol. 35 a. 

g gris is fur, gris and gray is common Specul. Hist, xxiii. c. 162. f. 329 b. 

in the metrical romances. p Nov. Ixxiv. 


through a forest, fell into a deep pit, in which were a lion, an ape, and 
a serpent. A poor man who gathered sticks in the forest hearing his 
cries, drew him up, together with the lion, the ape, and the serpent. 
The Seneschal returned home, promising to reward the poor man with 
great riches. Soon afterwards the poor man went to the palace to 
claim the promised reward ; but was ordered to be cruelly beaten by 
the Seneschal. In the mean time, the lion drove ten asses laden with 
gold to the poor man's cottage ; the serpent brought him a precious 
stone of three colours ; and the ape, when he came to the forest on his 
daily business, laid him heaps of wood. The poor man, in consequence 
of the virtues of the serpent's precious stone, which he sold, arrived to 
the dignity of knighthood, and acquired ample possessions. But after- 
wards he found the precious stone in his chest, which he presented to 
the king. The king having heard the whole story, ordered the Sene- 
schal to be put to death for his ingratitude, and preferred the poor 
man to his office. 

This story occurs in Symeon Setlfs translation of the celebrated 
Arabian fable-book called CALILAH u DUMNAH^. It is recited by 
Matthew Paris, under the year 1195, as a parable which king Richard 
the First, after his return from the East, was often accustomed to repeat, 
by way of reproving those ungrateful princes who refused to engage in 
the crusade 1 ". It is versified by .Gower, who omits the lion, as Matthew 
Paris does the ape, in the fifth book of the CONFESSIO AMANTIS S . He 
thus describes the services of the ape and serpent to the poor man, who 
gained his livelihood by gathering sticks in a forest. 

He gan his apejuione behold, 
Which had gadred al aboute, 
Of stickes here and there a route, 
And leyde hem redy to his honde, 
Whereof he made his trusse and bond 

From daie to daie 

Upon a time and as he drough 
Towarde the woodde, he sigh beside 
The great gastly serpent glide, 
Till that she came in his presence, 
And in hir kynde a reverence 
She hath hym do, and forthwith all 
A stone more bright than a christall 
Out of hir mouth to fore his waye 
She lett down fall. . 

q P. 444. This work was translated with wooden cuts, 4to. But Doni was 

into English under the title of" Denies the Italian translator. 

MORALL PHiLOSOPHiE, translated from r Hist. Maj. p. 179. Edit. Wats, 

the Indian tongue, 1570." Black letter * fol. 110 b. 

VOL. i. m 


In Gower also, as often as the poor man sells the precious stone, on 
returning home, he finds it again among the money in his purse. 

The acquisition of riches, and the multiplication of treasure, by in- 
visible agency, is a frequent and favorite fiction of the Arabian romance. 
Thus, among the presents given to Sir Launfal by the lady Triamore, 
daughter of the king of Faerie, 

I wylle the ^eve 1 an alner u , 
I-mad of sylk and of gold cler, 

With fayre ymages thre : 
As oft thou puttest the hond therinne, 
A mark of gold thou schalt wynne w , 

In wat place that thou be. x 

CHAP. cxx. King Darius's legacy to his three sons. To the eldest 
he bequeathes all his paternal inheritance ; to the second, all that he 
had acquired by conquest ; and to the third, a ring and necklace, both 
of gold, and a rich cloth. All the three last gifts were endued with 
magical virtues. Whoever wore the ring on his finger, gained the love 
or favour of all whom he desired to please. Whoever hung the neck- 
lace over his breast, obtained all his heart could desire. Whoever sate 
down on the cloth, could be instantly transported to any part of the 
world which he chose. 

From this beautiful tale, of which the opening only is here given, 
Occleve, commonly called Chaucer's disciple, framed a poem in the 
octave stanza, which was printed in the year 1614, by William Browne, 
in his set of Eclogues called the SHEPHEARDS PIPE. Occleve has 
literally followed the book before us, and has even translated into En- 
glish prose the MORALISATION annexed?. He has given no sort of 
embellishment to his original, and by no means deserves the praises 
which Browne in the following elegant pastoral lyrics has bestowed on 
his performance, and which more justly belong to the genuine Gothic, 
or rather Arabian, inventor. 

Wei I wot, the man that first 

Sung this lay, did quenche his thirst 

Deeply as did ever one 

In the Muses Helicon. 

Many times he hath been scene 

With the faeries on the greene, 

'givethee. MSS. Laud. K. 78. [See infra, vol.ii. 

u Perhaps aimer, or ahnere, a cabinet p. 258etseqq.] 
or chest, [purse.] w get, find. [Mr. Warton has not been [strictly] 

* Syr Launtal. MSS. Cott. Calig. A. 2. accurate in this statement. Occleve's 

fol. 35 b. immediate model was our English Gesta; 

y Viz. MSS. Seld. Sup. 53. Where is nor is it improbable that he might even 

a prologue of many stanzas not printed be the translator of it. The moralization 

by Browne. See also MSS. Digb. 185. also is entirely different. DOUCE.] 


And to them his pipe did sound 

As they danced in a round ; 

Mickle solace would they make him, 

And at midnight often wake him, 

And convey him from his roome 

To a fielde of yellow broome, 

Or into the medowes where 

Mints perfume the gentle aire, 

And where Flora spreads her treasure 

There they would beginn their measure. 

If it chanced night's sable shrowds 

Muffled Cynthia up in clowds, 

Safely home they then would see him, 

And from brakes and quagmires free him. 

There are few such swaines as he 

Now a dayes for harmonic. 2 

The history of Darius, who gave this legacy to his three sons, is in- 
corporated with that of Alexander, which has been decorated with 
innumerable fictions by the Arabian writers. There is also a separate 
romance on Darius, and on Philip of Macedon a . 

CHAP, cxxiv. Of the knights who intercede for their friend with a 
king, by coming to his court, each half on horseback and half on foot 
This is the last novel in the CENTO NOVELLE ANTICHE. 
CHAP, cxxvi. Macrobius is cited for the address and humour of an 
ingenuous boy named Papirius. 

This is one of the most lively stories in Macrobius b . 
CHAP, cxxviii. The forged testament of the wicked knight, under 
the reign of Maximian. 

CHAP, cxxix. A young prince is sent on his travels. His three 

CHAP, cxxxii. The four physicians. 
CHAP, cxxxiii. The king and his two greyhounds. 
CHAP, cxxxiv. A story from Seneca. 

CHAP, cxxxv. The story of Lucretia, from saint Austin's CITY ov 

A more classical authority for this story, had it been at hand, would 
have been slighted for saint Austin's CITY OF GOD, which was the 
favorite spiritual romance ; and which, as the transition from religion 
to gallantry was anciently very easy, gave rise to the famous old French 
romance called the CITY OF LADIES. 

CHAP, cxxxvii. The Roman emperor who is banished for his impar- 
tial distribution of justice. From the CRONICA of Eusebius. 
CHAP, cxxxviii. King Medro. 

* Egl. i. b Saturnal. lib. i. c. 6. pag. 147. Londin. 

a Bibl. Reg. Paris. MSS. Cod. 3031. 1C94. 


CHAP, cxxxix. King Alexander, by means of a mirrour, kills a cock- 
atrice, whose look had destroyed the greatest part of his army. 

^Elian, in his VARIOUS HISTORY, mentions a serpent, which appear- 
ing from the mouth of a cavern, stopped the march of Alexander's 
army through a spacious desert. The wild beasts, serpents, and birds 
which Alexander encountered in marching through India, were most 
extravagantly imagined by the oriental fabulists, and form the chief 
wonders of that monarch's romance b . 

CHAP. cxl. The emperor Eraclius reconciles two knights. 

This story is told by Seneca of Cneius Piso c . It occurs in Chaucer's 
SOMPNOUR'S TALE, as taken from /Senec, or Seneca d . 

CHAP. cxli. A knight who had dissipated all his substance in fre- 
quenting tournaments, under the reign of Fulgentius, is reduced to 
extreme poverty. A serpent haunted a chamber of his house ; who 
being constantly fed with milk by the knight, in return made his bene- 
factor rich. The knight's ingratitude and imprudence in killing the 
serpent, who .was supposed to guard a treasure concealed in his 

Medea's dragon guarding the golden fleece is founded on the oriental 
idea of treasure being guarded by serpents. We are told in Vincent 
of Beauvais, that there are mountains of solid gold in India guarded 
by dragons and griffins 6 . 

CHAP, cxliii. A certain king ordained a law, that if any man was 
suddenly to be put to death, at sun-rising a trumpet should be sounded 
before his gate. The king made a great feast for all his nobles, at 
which the most skilful musicians were present f . But amidst the gene- 
ral festivity, the king was sad and silent. All the guests were sur- 
prised and perplexed at the king's melancholy; but at length his brother 
ventured to ask him the cause. The king replied, " Go home, and you 
shall hear my answer to-morrow." The king ordered his trumpeters 
to sound early the next morning before his brother's gate, and to bring 
-him with them to judgement. The brother, on hearing this unex- 
pected dreadful summons, was seized with horror, and came before the 
king in a black robe. The king commanded a deep pit to be made, 

b In Vincent of Beauvais, there is a Syre Kadore lette make a feste, 

long fabulous History of Alexander, tran- That was fayr and honeste, 
scribed partly from Simeon Seth. Spec. Wyth hys lorde the kynge ; 

Hist. lib. iv. c. i. f. 41 a. seq. edit. Von. Ther was myche menstra^e, 

1591. fol. Trompus, tabors, and sawtre, 
c De Ira, lib. i. c. 8. Bothe harpe, and fydyllyng : 

d Ver. 7COO. Tyrwh. The lady was gentyll and small, 

' Specul. Hist. lib. i. c. 64. fol. 9 b. In kurtull alone served yn hall 

' In the days of chivalry, a concert of T . By ? r f that n ? bu11 ^ yng : 

a variety of "instruments of music con- The cloth upon her schone so bryghth, 

stantly made a part of the solemnity of a When she was ther >' n y d yg hth 

splendid feast. Of this many instances She semed non erdl y th y n S e > &c ' 

have been given. I will here add another, And in Chaucer, Jan. and May, v. 1234. 

from the unprinted metrical romance of Att everie cours came the loud min- 

Ernare. MSS. Cott. Calig. A. 2. fol. 71 a. stralsie. 


and a chair composed of the most frail materials, and supported by 
four slight legs, to be placed inclining over the edge of the pit. In 
this the brother, being stripped naked, was seated. Over his head a 
sharp sword was hung by a small thread of silk. Around him four 
men were stationed with swords exceedingly sharp, who were to wait 
for the king's word, and then to kill him. In the mean time, a table 
covered with the most costly dishes was spread before him, accompanied 
with all sorts of music. Then said the king, " My brother, why are 
you so sad ? Can you be dejected in the midst of this delicious music, 
and with all these choice dainties ?" He answered, " How can I be 
glad, when I have this morning heard the trumpet of death at my 
doors, and while I am seated in this tottering chair? If I make the 
smallest motion, it will break, and I shall fall into the pit, from which I 
shall never arise again. If I lift my head, the suspended sword \\ill 
penetrate my brain ; while these four tormentors only wait your com- 
mand to put me to death." The king replied, " Now I will answer 
your question, why I was sad yesterday. I am exactly in your situa- 
tion. I am seated, like you, in a frail and perishable chair, ready to 
tumble to pieces every moment, and to throw me into the infernal pit. 
Divine judgement, like this sharp sword, hangs over my head, and I 
am surrounded, like you, with four executioners. That before me is 
Death, whose coming I cannot tell ; that behind me, my Sins, which 
are prepared to accuse me before the tribunal of God ; that on the 
right, the Devil, who is ever watching for his prey ; and that on the 
left, the Worm, who is now hungering after my flesh. Go in peace, 
my dearest brother : and never ask me again why I am sad at a 

Gower, in the CONFESSIO AMANTIS, may perhaps have copied the 
circumstance of the morning trumpet from this apologue. His king is 
a king of Hungary. 

It so befell, that on a dawe 
There was ordeined by the lawe 
A trompe with a sterne breathe, 
Which was cleped the trompe of deathe : 
And in the court where the kyng was, 
A certaine man, this trompe of brasse 
Hath in kepyng, and therof serveth, 
That when a lorde his deathe deserveth,. 
He shall this dredfull trompe blowe 
To fore his gate, to make it knowe ; 
How that the jugement is yeve 
Of deathe, which shall not be foryeve. 
The kyng whan it was night anone, 
This man assent, and bad him gone, 
To trompen at his brothers gate ; 
And he, whiche mote done algate, 


Goth foorth, and doth the kyng's heste. 
This lorde whiche herde of this tempest 
That he tofore his gate blewe, 
Tho wist he by the lawe, and knewe 
That he was schurly deade&, &c. 

But Gower has connected with this circumstance a different story, 
and of an inferior cast, both in point of moral and imagination. The 
truth is, Gower seems to have altogether followed this story as it ap- 
peared in the SPECULUM HISTORIALE of \ 7 mcent of Beauvais h , who 
took it from Damascenus's romance of BARLAAM AND JOSAPHAT*. 
Part of it is thus told in Caxton's translation of that legend k . '* And 
the kynge hadde suche a custome, that whan one sholde be delyvered 
to deth, the kynge sholde sende hys cryar wyth hys trompe that was 
ordeyned therto. And on the euen he sente the cryar wyth the trompe 
tofore hys brother's gate, and made to soune the trompe. And whan 
the kynges brother herde this, he was in despayr of sauynge of his lyf, 
and coude not slepe of alle the nyght, and made his testament. And 
on the morne erly, he cladde hym in blacke : and came with wepyng 
with hys wyf and chyldren to the kynges paleys. And the kynge made 
hym to com tofore hym, and sayd to hym, A fooll that thou art, that 
thou hast herde the messager of thy brother, to whom thou knowest 
well thou hast not trespaced and doubtest so mooche, howe oughte not 
I then ne doubte the messageres of our lorde, agaynste whom I haue 
soo ofte synned, which signefyed unto me more clerely the deth then 
the trompe?" 

CHAP. cxlv. The philosopher Socrates shows the cause of the in- 
salubrity of a passage between two mountains in Armenia, by means 
of a polished mirrour of steel. Albertus is cited ; an abbot of Stade, 
and the author of a Chronicle from Adam to 1256. 

CHAP, cxlvi. Saint Austin's CITY OF GOD is quoted for an answer 
of Diomedes the pirate to king Alexander. 

CHAP, cxlviii. Aulus Gellius is cited. 

Aulus Gellius is here quoted, for the story of Arion 1 , throwing him- 
self into the sea, and carried on the back of a dolphin to king Periander 
at Corinth. Gellius relates this story from Herodotus, in whom it is 
now extant". 

CHAP, cliii. The history of Apollonius of Tyre. 

This story, the longest in the book before us, and the groundwor-k 
of a favorite old romance, is known to have existed before the year 

8 Lib. i. fol. xix. b. col. i. m Noct. Attic, lib. xvi. cap. xix. 

b Ubi supr. p. clxxiii. n Lib. viii. 

1 Opp. ut supr. pag. 12. * [A fragment of a Saxon translation of 

k See Caxton's Golden Legende, fol. this romance is in Corpus Christi college 
ecclxxxxiii. b. See also Metrical Lives of library, Cambridge, and has been edited, 

the Saints, MSS. Bodl. 779. f. 292 a. with a literal translation and glossary, by 

1 It is printed Amon. Mr. Thorpe. 8vo. 1834. M.] 


In the Prologue to the English romance on this subject, called 
KYNGE APOLYXE OF THYRE, and printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 
1510, we are told : " My worshypfull mayster Wynkyn de Worde, 
havynge a lytell boke of an auncyent hystory of a kynge somtyme 
reygnyne in the countree of Thyre called Appolyn, concernynge his 
malfortunes and peryllous adventures right espouventables, bryefly 
compyled and pyteous for to here; the which boke, I Robert Coplande 
have me applyed for to translate out of the Frensshe language into our 
maternal Englysshe tongue, at the exhortacyon of my forsayd mayster, 
accordynge dyrectly to myn auctor: gladly followynge the trace of my 
mayster Caxton, begynnynge with small storyes and pamfletes and so 
to other." The English romance, or the French, which is the same 
thing, exactly corresponds in many passages with the text of the GESTA. 
I will instance in the following one only, in which the complication of 
the fable commences. King Appolyn dines in disguise in the hall of 
king Antiochus. " Came in the kynges daughter, accompanyed with 
many ladyes and damoyselles, whose splendente beaute were too long to 
endyte, for her rosacyate coloure was medled with grete favour. She 
dranke unto hir fader, and to all the lordes, and to all them that had 
ben at the play of the SheldeP. And as she behelde here and there, 
she espyed kynge Appolyn, and then she sayd unto her fader, Syr, 
what is he that sytteth so hye as by you ? it semeth by hym that he is 
angry or sorrowfull. The kynge sayd, I never sawe so nimble and 
pleasaunt a player at the shelde, and therefore have I made hym to 
come and soupe with my knyghtes. And yf ye wyll knowe what he is, 
demaunde hym ; for peradventure he wyll tell you sooner than me. Me- 
thynke that he is departed from some good place, and I thinke in my 
mynde that somethynge is befallen hym for which he is sorry. This 
sayd, the noble dameysell wente unto Appolyn and said, Fayre Syr, 
graunt me a boone. And he graunted her with goode herte. And she 
sayd unto hym, Albeyt that your vysage be tryst and hevy, your be- 
havour sheweth noblesse and facundyte, and therefore I pray you to 
tell me of your affayre and estate. Appolyn answered, Yf ye demaunde 
of my rychesses, I have lost them in the sea. The damoysell sayd, I 
pray you that you tell me of your adventures V But in the GESTA, 
the princess at entering the royal hall kisses all the knights and lords 
present, except the stranger 1 ". Vossius says, that about the year 1520, 
one Alamanus Rinucinus, a Florentine, translated into Latin this fabu- 
lous history ; and that the translation was corrected by Beroaldus. 

The printer of that name. He also Hym tho3te he brente bry3te 

translated from the French, at the desire But he myjte with Launi'al pleye 

of Edward duke of Buckingham, the ro- In the felde betwene ham tweye 

mance of the Knyght of the Swanne. See To justy other to fy3te. 

his Prologue. And in many other places. 

p The tournament. To tourney is often q p 

called simply to pftn/. As thus in Svr r P 7f'i " , 

Launfal, MSS. Colt Calig. A. 2. fol. 37. FoL lxXH ' h ' C L 2< 


Vossius certainly cannot mean, that he translated it from the Greek 
original 9 . 

CHAP. cliv. A story from Gervase of Tilbury, an Englishman, who 
wrote about the year 1200, concerning a miraculous statue of Christ in 
the city of Edessa. 

CHAP. civ. The adventures of an English knight named Albert in a 
subterraneous passage, within the bishoprick of Ely. 

This story is said to have been told in the winter after supper, in a 
castle, cum familia divitis ad focum, tit Potentibus moris est, RECEN- 
SENDIS ANTIQUIS GfiSTis operam daret, when the family of a rich man, 
as is the custom with the Great, was sitting round the fire, and telling 
ANTIENT GESTS. Here is a trait of the private life of our ancestors, 
who wanted the diversions and engagements of modern times to relieve 
a tedious evening. Hence we learn, that when a company was assem- 
bled, if a juggler or a minstrel were not present, it was their custom to 
entertain themselves by relating or hearing a series of adventures. 
Thus the general plan of the CANTERBURY TALES, which at first sight 
seems to be merely an ingenious invention of the poet to serve a par- 
ticular occasion, is in great measure founded on a fashion of ancient 
life ; and Chaucer, in supposing each of the pilgrims to tell a tale as 
they are travelling to Becket's shrine, only makes them adopt a mode 
of amusement which was common to the conversations of his age. I 
do not deny, that Chaucer has shown his address in the use and appli- 
cation of this practice. 

So habitual was this amusement in the dark ages, that the graver 
sort thought it unsafe for ecclesiastics, if the subjects admitted any de- 
gree of levity. The following curious injunction was deemed necessary, 
in a code of statutes assigned to a college at Oxford in the year 1292. 
I give it in English. " CH. xx. The fellows shall all live honestly, as 
becomes Clerks. They shall not rehearse, sing, nor willingly hear, 
BALLADS or TALES of LOVERS, which tend to lasciviousness and idle- 
ness 4 ." Yet the libraries of our monasteries, as I have before observed, 
were filled with romances. In that of Croyland-abbey we find even 
archbishop Turpin's romance, placed on the same shelf with Robert 
Tumbeley on the Canticles, Roger Dymock against Wickliffe, and 
Thomas Waleys on the Psalter. But their apology must be, that they 
thought this a true history ; at least that an archbishop could write no- 
thing but truth. Not to mention that the general subject of those books 
were the triumphs of Christianity over paganism 11 . 

CHAP. clvi. Ovid, in his TROJAN WAR, is cited for the story of 
Achilles disguised in female apparel. 

Gower has this history more at large in the CONFESSIO AMANTIS : 

1 Hist. Lat. lib. iii. c. 8. pag. 552. edit. &c. MS. Registr. Univ. Oxon. D. b. f. 76. 
1627. 4to. See p. 84 of this volume. 

1 Cantilenas vel fabulas de Amasiis, u Lcland. Coll. iii. p. 30. 


but he refers to a Cronike, which seems to be the BOKE OF TROIE, men- 
tioned at the end of the chapter w . 

CHAP, clvii. The porter of a gate at Rome, who taxes all deformed 
persons entering the city. This tale is in Alphonsus. And in the CENTO 

CHAP, clviii. The discovery of the gigantic body of Pallas, son of 
Evancler, at Rome, which exceeded in height the walls of the city, was 
uncorrupted, and accompanied with a burning lamp, two thousand two 
hundred and forty years after the destruction of Troy. His wound 
was fresh, which was four fet arid a half in length. 

It is curious to observe the romantic exaggerations of the classical 

CHAP. clix. Josephus, in his book de Causis rerum naturalium, is 
quoted, for Noah's discovery of wine. 

I know not any book of Josephus on this subject. The first editor 
of the Latin Josephus was Ludovicus Cendrata of Verona, who was 
ignorant that he was publishing a modern translation. In the Dedica- 
tion he complains, that the manuscript was brought to him from Bo- 
nonia so ill-written, that it was often impossible even to guess at Jo- 
sephus s words. And in another place he says, Josephus first wrote the 
ANTIQUITATES in Hebrew, and that he afterwards translated them 
from Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek into Latin y. 

The substance of this chapter is founded on a Rabbinical tradition, 
related by Fabricius 2 . When Noah planted the vine, Satan attended, 
and sacrificed a sheep, a lion, an ape, and a sow. These animals were 
to symbolise the gradations of ebriety. When a man begins to drink, 
he is meek and ignorant as the lamb, then becomes bold as the lion, 
his courage is soon transformed into the foolishness of the ape, and at 
last he wallows in the mire like the sow. Chaucer hence says in the 
MANCIPLES PROLOGUE, as the passage is justly corrected by Mr. Tyr- 

I trowe that ye have dronken wine of ape, 
And that is when men plaien at a strawe a . 

In the old KALENBRIER DES BERGERS, as Mr. Tyrwhitt has remarked, 
Vin de singe, vin de moulon, vin de lyon, and vin de porceau, are men- 
tioned, in their respective operations on the four temperaments of the 
human body. 

CHAP. clxi. Of a hill in a forest of England, where if a hunter sate 
after the chace, he was refreshed by a miraculous person of a mild 
aspect, bearing a capacious horn, adorned with gems and gold b , and 

w Lib.v. fol. 99 b. col. 2. See fol. 101 a. * Cod.Pseudepigr. Vet. Testam. vol. i. 

col. 1,2. p. 275. 

* Nov. 50. a Ver. 16993. Tyrwh. 

y At Verona. 1480. By Peter Mauffer b The text says, " Such a one as is uied 

a Frenchman. It is a most beautiful and at this day.'' 
costly book, printed on vellum in folio. 


filled with the most delicious liquor. This person instantly disappeared 
after administering the draught ; which was of so wonderful a nature, 
as to dispel the most oppressive lassitude, and to make the body more 
vigorous than before. At length, a hunter having drunk of this horn, 
ungratefully refused to return it to the friendly apparition ; and his 
master, the lord of the forest, lest he should appear to countenance so 
atrocious a theft, gave it to king Henry the elder . 

This story, which seems imperfect, I suppose, is from Gervase of 

CHAP, clxii. The same author is cited for an account of a hill in 
Castile, on which was a palace of demons. 

Whenever our compiler quotes Gervase of Tilbury, the reference is 
to his OTIA!MPERIALIA: which is addressed to the emperor Otho the 
Fourth, and contains his Commentarius de regnis Imperatorwn Roma- 
norum^liis Mundi Descriptio, and his Tractatus de Mirabilibus Mundi. 
All these four have been improperly supposed to be separate works. 

CHAP, clxiii. King Alexander's son Celestinus. 

CHAP, clxvii. The archer and the nightingale. 

This fable is told in the Greek legend of BARLAAM AND JOSAPHAT, 
written by Johannes Damascenus d . And in Caxton's GOLDEN 
LEGENDE. It is also found in the CLERICALIS DISCIPLINA of 

CHAP, clxviii. Barlaam is cited for the story of a man, who, flying 
from a unicorn, and falling into a deep and noisome pit, hung on the 
boughs of a lofty tree which grew from the bottom. On looking down- 
ward, he saw a huge dragon twisted round the trunk, and gaping to 
devour him. He also observed two mice gnawing at the roots of the 
tree, which began to totter. Four white vipers impregnated the air of 
the pit with their poisonous breath. Looking about him, he discovered 
a stream of honey distilling from one of the branches of the tree, which 
he began eagerly to devour, without regarding his dangerous situation. 
The tree soon fell : he found himself struggling in a loathsome quag- 
mire, and was instantly swallowed by the dragon. 

This is another of Barlaam's apologues in Damascenus's romance of 
BARLAAM AND JOSAPHAT : and which has been adopted into the 
Lives of the Saints by Surius and others f . A MORALISATION is sub- 
joined, exactly agreeing with that in the GESTA&. 

CHAP, clxix. Trogus Pompeius is cited, for the wise legislation of 
Ligurius, a noble knight. 

Our compiler here means Justin's abridgement of Trogus ; which, 
to the irreparable injury of literature, soon destroyed its original. An 

c That is, Henry the First, king of f See Caxton's Golden Legend, fol. 

England. cccclxxxxiii. a. 

d Opp. ut supr. p. 22. See also Surius, s See Damascenus, ut supr. pag. 31. 

ut supr. Novembr. 27. pag. 565. And Metrical Lives of Saints, MSS. Bodl, 

Fol. ccclxxxxii. b. 779. f. 293 b. 


early epitome of Livy would have been attended with the same un- 
happy consequences. 

CHAP. clxx. The dice player and saint Bernard. 

This is from saint Bernard's legend h . 

CHAP, clxxi. The two knights of Egypt and Baldach. 

This is the story of Boccace's popular novel of TITO AND GISIPPO, 
and of Lydgate's Tale of two Marchants of Egypt and of Baldad, a 
manuscript poem in the British Museum, and lately in the library of 
doctor Askew 1 . Peter Alphonsus is quoted for this story ; and it 
makes the second Fable of his CLERICALIS DISCIPLINA. 

I take the liberty of introducing a small digression here, which refers 
to two pieces of the poet last mentioned, never enumerated among his 
works. In the year 14-83, Caxton printed at Westminster, " The PYL- 
GREMAGE OF THE SowLE translated oute of Frensshe into Englisshe. 
Full of devout maters touching the sowle, and many questions assoyled 
to cause a man to lyve the better, &c. Emprinted at Westminster by 
William Caxton the first yere of kynge Edward V. 1483." The French 
book, which is a vision, and has some degree of imagination, is probably 
the PELERIN DE L'AME, of Guillaume prior of ChaulisJ. This trans- 
lation was made from the French, with additions, in the year 1413. 
For in the colophon are these words : " Here endeth the dreme of 
the PYLGREMAGE OF THE SOWLE translated out of Frensche into En- 
glisshe. with somwhat of Addicions, the yere of our lorde M.CCCC. and 
thyrteen, and endethe in the vigyle of Seint Bartholomew." The trans- 
lator of this book, at least the author of the Addicions, which altogether 
consist of poetry in seven-lined stanzas, I believe to be Lydgate. Not 
to insist on the correspondence of time and style, I observe, that the 
thirty-fourth chapter of Lydgate's metrical LIFE OF THE VIRGIN MARY 
is literally repeated in the thirty-fourth chapter of this Translation. 
This chapter is a digression of five or six stanzas in praise of Chaucer, 
in which the writer feelingly laments the recent death of his maister 
Chaucer, poete of Britaine, who used to amende and correcte the wronge 
traces of my rude penne. No writer besides, in Lydgate's own life-time, 
can be supposed, with any sort of grace or propriety, to have men- 
tioned those personal assistances of Chaucer, in Lydgate's own words. 
And if we suppose that the Translation, or its Addicions, were written 
by Lydgate before he wrote his LIFE OF THE VIRGIN, the proof will 
be the same k . 

Another piece probably written by Lydgate, yet never supposed or 
acknowledged to be of his composition, is a poem in the octave stanza, 

h See Caxton's Gold. Leg. f. cxxix. b. GRIMACE OF THE WORLD by the com- 

1 R. Edwards has a play on this story, maundement of the earle of Salisburie, 

1582. 1426." But this must be a different work. 

J See vol. ii. p. 320. Ad calc. Opp. Chauc. fol. 376. col. 1. 
k Stowe mentions Lydgate's " PIL- 


containing thirty-seven leaves in folio, and entitled LABEROUS AND 
MARVEY.LOUS WOKKE OF SAPIENCE. After a long debate between 
MERCY and TRUTH, and JUSTICE and PEACE, all the products of nature 
and of human knowledge are described, as they stand arranged in the 
palace and dominions of WISDOM. It is generally allowed to have been 
printed by Caxton : it has not the name of the printer, nor any date. 
Had it been written by Caxton, as I once hastily suspected, or by any 
of his coternporaries, the name of Lydgate would have appeared in 
conjunction with those of Gower and Chaucer, who are highly cele- 
brated in the Prologue as erthely gods expert in poesie : for these three 
writers were constantly joined in panegyric, at least for. a century, by 
their successors, as the distinguished triumvirate of English poetry. 
In the same Prologue, the author says he was commanded to write this 
poem by the king. No poet cotemporary with Caxton was of conse- 
quence enough to receive such a command : and we know that Lydgate 
compiled many of his works by the direction, or under the patronage, 
of King Henry the Fifth. Lydgate was born in Suffolk : and our 
author, from the circumstance of having lived in a part of England not 
of a very polished dialect, apologises for the rudeness of his language, 
so that he cannot delycately endyte. It is much in the style and manner 
of Lydgate ; and I believe it to have been one of his early per- 
formances 1 . 

CHAP, clxxii. A king of England has two knights, named Guido 
and Tirius. Guido having achieved many splendid exploits for the 
love of a beautiful lady, at length married her. Three days after his 
marriage he saw a vision, which summoned him to engage in the holy 
war. At parting she gave him a ring ; saying, " as often as you look 
on this ring, remember me." Soon after his departure she had a son. 
After various adventures, in which his friend Tirius has a share, at the 
end of seven years he returned to England in the habit of a pilgrim. 
Coming to his castle, he saw at the gate his lady sitting, and distribu- 
ting alms to a crowd of poor people ; ordering them all to pray for the 
return of her lord Guido from the holy land. She was on that day 
accompanied by her son a little boy, very beautiful and richly appa- 
relled ; and who, hearing his mother, as she was distributing her alms, 
perpetually recommending Guido to their prayers, asked, if that was 
his father ? Among others, she gave alms to her husband Guido, not 
knowing him in the pilgrim's disguise. Guido, seeing the little boy, 
took him in his arms, and kissed him ; saying, " O my sweet son, may 
God give you grace to please him I" For this boldness he was re- 
proved by the attendants. But the lady, finding him destitute and a 
stranger, assigned him a cottage in a neighbouring forest. Soon after- 

1 See vol. ii. p. 385. Note w . I know heaven for redemption of mankind." Ubi 
not if this is the poem recited by Stowe, supr. col. i. 
and called " The Courte of Sapience in 


wards falling sick, he said to his servant, " Carry this ring to your lady, 
and tell her, if she desires ever to see me again, to come hither without 
delay." The servant conveyed the ring ; but before she arrived, he 
was dead. She threw herself on his body, and exclaimed with tears, 
"Where are now my alms which I daily gave for my lord ? I saw you 
receive those alms, but I knew you not. You beheld, embraced, and 
kissed your own son, but did not discover yourself to him nor to me. 
What have I done, that I shall see you no more ?" She then interred 
him magnificently. 

The reader perceives this is the story of Guido, or Guy, earl of 
Warwick ; ana! probably this is the early outline of the life and death 
of that renowned champion. 

Many romances were at first little more than legends of devotion, 
containing the pilgrimage of an old warrior. At length, as chivalry 
came more into vogue, and the stores of invention were increased, the 
youthful and active part of the pilgrim's life was also written, and a 
long series of imaginary martial adventures was added, in which his 
religious was eclipsed by his heroic character, and the penitent was lost 
in the knight-errant. That which was the principal subject of the 
short and simple legend, became only the remote catastrophe of the 
voluminous romance. And hence by degrees it was almost an esta- 
blished rule of every romance, for the knight to end his days in a her- 
mitage. Cervantes has ridiculed this circumstance with great pleasantry, 
where Don Quixote holds a grave debate with Sancho, whether he shall 
turn saint or archbishop. 

So reciprocal, or rather so convertible, was the pious and the military 
character, that even some of the apostles had their romance. In the 
ninth century, the chivalrous and fabling spirit of the Spaniards trans- 
formed saint James into a knight. They pretended that he appeared 
and fought with irresistible fury, completely armed, and mounted on a 
stately white horse, in most of their engagements with the Moors ; and 
because by his superior prowess in these bloody conflicts, he was sup- 
posed to have freed the Spaniards from paying the annual tribute of a 
hundred Christian virgins to their infidel enemies, they represented him 
as a professed and powerful champion of distressed damsels. This 
apotheosis of chivalry in the person of their own apostle, must have 
ever afterwards contributed to exaggerate the characteristical romantic 
heroism of the Spaniards, by which it was occasioned ; and to propa- 
gate through succeeding ages, a stronger veneration for that species of 
military enthusiasm, to which they were naturally devoted. It is certain, 
that in consequence of these illustrious achievements in the Moorish 
wars, Saint James was constituted patron of Spain ; and became the 
founder of one of the most magnificent shrines, and of the most opulent 
order of knighthood, now existing in Christendom. The Legend of 
this invincible apostle is inserted in the Mosarabic liturgy. 

CHAP, clxxiii. A king goes to a fair, carrying in his train, a master 


with one of his scholars, who expose six bundles, containing a system 
of ethics, to sale 8 . 

Among the revenues accruing to the crown of England from the Fair 
of saint Botolph at Boston in Lincolnshire, within the HONOUR of 
RICHMOND, mention is made of the royal pavilion, or booth, which 
stood in the fair, about the year 1280. This fair was regularly fre- 
quented by merchants from the most capital trading towns of Nor- 
mandy, Germany, Flanders, and other countries. " Ibidem [in feriaj 
sunt qusedam domus quag dicuntur BOTH^E REGIME, quse valent per 
annum xxviii, 1. xiii, s. iiii, d. Ibidem sunt qusedam domus quas MER- 
CATORES DE YPRE tenent, quae valent per annum, xx, 1. Et qusedam 
domus quas MERCATORES DE CADOMO' ET OSTOGANIO" tenent, xi, I. 
Et qusedam domus quas MERCATORES DE ANACO V tenent xiii, 1. vi, s. 
viii, d. Et quaedam domus quas MERCATORES DE COLONIA tenent, 
xxv, 1. x, s." vv The high rent of these lodges is a proof that they were 
considerable edifices in point of size and accommodation. 

CHAP, clxxiv. The fable of a serpent cherished in a man's bosom*. 

About the year 1470, a collection of Latin fables, in six books, di- 
stinguished by the name of Esop, was published in Germany. The 
first three books consist of the sixty anonymous elegiac fables, printed 
in Nevelet's collection, under the title of Anonymi Fabulce JEsopic&y 
and translated, in 1503, by Wynkyn de Worde, with a few variations: 
under each is a fable in prose on the same subject from ROMULUS, or 
the old prose LATIN ESOP, which was probably fabricated in the 
twelfth century. The fourth book has the remaining fables of Romu- 
lus in prose only. The fifth, containing one or two fables only, which 
were never called Esop's, is taken from Alphonsus, the GESTA ROMA- 
NORUM, the CALILA u DAMNAH, and other obscure sources. The 
sixth and last book has seventeen fables ex translatione Rinucii, that 
is Rinucius, who translated Planudes's life of Esop, and sixty-nine of 
his fables, from Greek into Latin, in the fifteenth century. This col- 
lection soon afterwards was circulated in a French version, which Cax- 
ton translated into English. 

In an ancient general Chronicle, printed at Lubec in 1475, and en- 
titled RUDIMENTUM NoviTiORUMy, a short life of Esop is introduced, 
together with twenty-nine of his ikbles. The writer says, " Esopus 
adelphus claruit tempore Cyri regis Persarum. Vir ingeniosus et pru- 
dens, qui confinxit fabulas elegantes. Quas Romulus postmodum de 
greco transtulit in latinum, et filio suo Tibertino direxit 2 ," &c. The 

* Compare Malth. Paris, edit. Watts. x This fable is in Alphonsus's Clerica- 

p. 927. 40. And p. 751. 10. Us Disciplinu. 

1 Caen in Normandy. y In this work the following question is 

u Perhaps Ostend. discussed, originally, I believe, started by 

v Perhaps Le Pais d'Aunis, between saint Austin, and perhaps determined by 

the provinces of Poictou and Santone, Thomas Aquinas, An Angeli possint coire 

where is Rochelle, a famous port and mart. cum Mulieribus, et generare Gigantes ? 
w Registr. Honoris de Richmond. Lond. * Fol. 237 a. 

1722. fol. Num. viii. Append, p. 39. 


whole of this passage about Esop is transcribed from Vincent of Beau- 
vais a . 

CHAP, clxxvii. The feast of king Ahasuerus and Esther. 

I have mentioned a metrical romance on this subject b . And I have 
before observed, that Thomas of Elmham, a chronicler, calls the coro- 
nation-feast of king Henry the fifth, a second feast of Ahasuerus . 
Hence also Chaucer's allusion at the marriage of January and May, 
while they are at the solemnity of the wedding-dinner, which is very 

Quene Esther loked ner with soch an eye 
On Assuere, so meke a loke hath she d . 

Froissart, an historian, who shares the merit with Philip de Comines 
of describing every thing, gives this idea of the solemnity of a dinner 
on Christmas-day, at which he was present, in the hall of the castle of 
Gaston earl of Foiz at Ortez in Bevern, under the year 1388. At the 
upper or first table, he says, sate four bishops, then the earl, three 
viscounts, and an English knight belonging to the duke of Lancaster. 
At another table, five abbots, and two knights of Arragon. At another, 
many barons and knights of Gascony and Bigorre. At another, a great 
number of knights of Bevern. Four knights were the chief stewards 
of the hall, and the two bastard brothers of the earl served at the high 
table. " The erles two sonnes, sir Yvan of Leschell was sewer, and sir 
Gracyen bare his cuppe 6 . And there were many mynstrelles, as well 

* Specul. Hist. 1. iii. c. ii. And when tbou hast so done, 
b Vol. ii. p. 372. Take the kuppe of golde sone, 
c y j - 256 An( * serve hym of the wyne. 

And what that he speketh to the 

- March. Tale, v. 1260. Urr. Cum anone and teU P e me> 

e In the old romance, or Lay, of Emare, Qn goddus blessyng and myne. 

abeautiful use is madeofthe LadyEmare's The chylde 4 wente ynto the halle 

son serving as cup-bearer to the king of Ga- Among the lordes grete and smalle 
licia ; by which means, the king discovers That lufsumme were unthur lyne: 

the boy to be his son, and in consequence Then the lordes, that were grete, 

finds out his queen Emare, whom he had Wyshe 6 , and wente to here mete; 
long lost. The passage also points out the Menstrelles browst yn the kowrs?, 

duties of this office. MSS. Cott. Calig. A. The chylde hem served so curteysly, 

2. f. 74. Emare says to the young prince, Alle hym loved that hym sy 8 , 
her son, And spake hym gret honowres. 

To-morowe thou shalle serve yn halle Then sayde alle that loked hym upone, 

In a kurtylle of ryche palle 1 , So curteys a chyld sawe they never none, 

Byfore thys nobulle kyng ; In halle, ny yn bowres : 

Loke, sone 2 , so curtays thou be, The kynge sayde to hym yn game, 

That no mon fynde chalange to the Swete sone, what ys thy name 1 

In no manere thynge 3 . Lord, he sayd, y hy3th 9 Segramowres. 

When the kynge is served of spycerye, Then that nobulle kyng 

Knele thou downe hastylye, Toke up a grete sykynge 10 , 

And take hys hond yn thyn ; For hys sone 11 hyght so: 

1 a tunic of rich cloth. 2 son. 3 may accuse thee of want of courtesy. 

4 the boy. 5 richly apparelled. 6 washed. 7 course. 

8 saw. 9 I am called. 10 sighing. u his son. 


of his owne as of straungers, and eche of them dyde their devoyre in 
their faculties. The same day the erle of Foiz gave to harauldes and 
mynstrelles, the somme of fyve hundred frankes : and gave to the duke 
of Touraynes mynstrelles, gownes of clothe of golde furred with ermyns, 
valued at two hundred frankes. This dinner endured four houresV 
Froissart, who was entertained in this castle for twelve weeks, thus de- 
scribes the earl's ordinary mode of supping. " In this estate the erle of 
Foiz lyved. And at mydnyght whan he came out of his chambre into 
the halle to supper, he had ever before hym twelve torches brennyng , 
borne by twelve varieties [valets] standyng before his table all sup- 
per : they gave a grete light, and the hall ever full of knightes and 
squyers ; and many other tables dressed to suppe who wolde. Ther 
was none shulde speke to hym at his table, but if he were called. His 
meate was lightlye wylde foule. He had great plesure in armony of 
instrumentes, he could do it right well hymselfe : he wolde have songes 
songe before hym. He wolde gladlye se conseytes [conceits] and fan- 
tasies at his table. And when he had sene it, then he wolde send it to 
the other tables. There was sene in his hall, chambre, and court, 
knyghtes and squyers of honour goyng up and downe, and talkyng of 
armes and of amours P," &c. After supper, Froissart was admitted to 
an audience with this magnificent earl ; and used to read to him a book 
of sonnets, rondeaus, and virelays, written by &gentyll duke of Luxem- 

In this age of curiosity, distinguished for its love of historical anec- 
dotes and the investigation of ancient manners, it is extraordinary that 
a new translation should not be made of Froissart from a collated and 
corrected original of the French*. Froissart is commonly ranked with 

Certys, withowten lesynge, It appears that candles were borne by 

The teres out ot'hys yen 1 gan wryng, domestics, anil not placed on the table, at 

In herte he was fulle woo : a very early period in France. Gregory 

Neverethelese, he lette be, of Tours mentions a piece of savage mer- 

And loked on the chylde so fre 2 , riment practised by a feudal lord at sup- 

And mykelle 3 he levede hym thoo 4 . per, on one of his valets de chandelle, in 

Then the lordes that were grete consequence of this custom. Greg. Turon. 

Whesshcn a^eyn 5 , aftyr mete, Hist. lib. v. c. iii. fol. o4 b. edit. 1522. It 

And then com spycerye 6 . is probable that our proverbial scoff, You 

The chyld, that was of chere swete, are not fit to hold a candle to him, took its 

On hys kne downe he sete?, rise from this fashion. See Ray's Prov. 

And served hym curteyslye. C. p. 4. edit. 1670; and Shaksp. Romeo 

The kynge called the burgeys hym tyile, and Juliet, i. 4. 
And savde, Syr, yf hyt be thy wylle, 

Jyf me this lytylle body j H1 be a Candle-holder, and look on. 

Ishallehymrnakelordeoftownandtowre, p Ibid. fol. xxx. a. col. 2. 

Of hye halles, and of bowre, q Ibid. col. 1. 

I love hym specyally, &c. * [This has since been done by Col. 

n Chron. vol. ii. fol. xxxvi. a. Transl. T F h n f s Johnes aud was Polished at the 
Bern. 1523. Hafod press, 4 vols. ito. 1803-5. M.j 

2 the boy so beautiful. 3 greatly. 4 then. 5 washed 

again. 6 spicery, spiced wine. 1 bowed his knee. 8 give me this boy. 


romances: but it ought to be remembered, that he is the historian of a 
romantic age, when those manners which form the fantastic books of 
chivalry were actually practised. As he received his multifarious in- 
telligence from such a variety of vouchers, and of different nations, and 
almost always collected his knowledge of events from report, rather 
than from written or recorded evidence, his notices of persons and 
places are frequently confused and unexact. Many of these petty in- 
correctnesses are not, however, to be imputed to Froissart : and it may 
seem surprising, that there are not more inaccuracies of this kind in a 
voluminous chronicle, treating of the affairs of England, and abound- 
ing in English appellations, composed by a Frenchman, and printed in 
France. Whoever will take the pains to compare this author with the 
coeval records in Rymer, will find numerous instances of his truth and 
integrity, in relating the more public and important transactions of his 
own times. Why he should not have been honoured with a modern 
edition at the Louvre, it is easy to conceive : the French have a national 
prejudice against a writer, who has been so much more complaisant to 
England than to their own country*. Upon the whole, if Froissart 
should be neglected by the historical reader for his want of precision 
and authenticity, he will at least be valued by the philosopher for his 
striking pictures of life, drawn without reserve or affectation from real 
nature with a faithful and free pencil, and by one who had the best 
opportunities of observation, who was welcome alike to the feudal 
castle or the royal palace, and who mingled in the bustle and business 
of the world, at that very curious period of society, when manners are 
very far refined, and yet retain a considerable tincture of barbarism. 
But I cannot better express my sentiments on this subject, than in the 
words of Montaigne. " J'ayme les Historiens ou fort simples ou excel- 
lens. Les simples qui n'ont point de quoy y mesler queique chose du 
leur, et qui n'y apportent que le soin et la diligence de ramasser tout 
ce qui vient a leur notice, et d'enregistrer a la bonne foy toutes choses 
sans chois et sans triage, nous laissent le jugement entier pour la co- 
noissance de la verite. Tel est entre autres pour example le bon Frois- 
sard, qui a marche en son enterprise d'une si franche naifuete, qu'ayant 
fait une faute il ne craint aucunement de la reconnoistre et corriger en 
1'endroit, ou il en a este adverty : et qui nous represente la diversite 
mesme des bruits qui couroient, et les differens rapports qu'on luy fai- 
sot. C'est la matiere de 1'Histoire nu'i et informe ; chacun en peut faire 
son proifit autant qu'il a d'entendementV 

CHAP, clxxviii. A king is desirous to know how to rule himself and 

. * [An edition of Froissart is included demised, which detracts greatly from the 

in the "Collection des Chioniques natio- value of the edition. M.] 
nales Franyaises," with notes and illus- * Essais, lib. ii. ch. x. p. 409. sdit. 1598. 

trations by J. A. Buchon, 8 vo, Paris, 1824; 8 vo. 
but unfortunately the orthography is mo- 

VOL. i. n 


his kingdom. One of his wise men presents an allegorical picture on 
the wall ; from which, after much study, he acquires the desired in- 

In the original eastern apologue, perhaps this was a piece of tapestry. 
From the cultivation of the textorial arts among the orientals, came 
Darius's wonderful cloth above-mentioned 6 ; and the idea of the robe 
richly embroidered and embossed with stories of romance and other 
imageries, in the unprinted romance of EMARE, which forms one of 
the finest descriptions of the kind that I have seen in Gothic poetry, 
and which I shall therefore not scruple to give at large. 

Sone aftur yn a whyle, 
The ryche kynge of Cesyle f 

To the Emperour gane wende^; 
A ryche present wyth hym he browght, 
A clothe that was wordylye h wroght, 

He wellecomed hym as the hende 1 . 
Syr Tergaunte, that nobylle kny^t hy^te, 
He presented the emperour ryght, 

And sette hym on hys kne k , 
Wyth that cloth rychyly dyght ; 
Fulle of stones